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Cleveland’s $5 million proposal to Habitat for Humanity would build 50 homes

 Habitat for Humanity Greater Cleveland Restore and Administrative Offices
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The gift would be used as part of a larger five year effort to help 400 households. Some of the money would also go towards the down payment on the purchase of their current headquarters (above) on the city's West Side.

A Cleveland City Council proposal would give $5 million to the region’s Habitat for Humanity and fund 50 new homes in targeted neighborhoods of the city with low homeownership rates.

The donation — which would be the largest ever made to the nonprofit organization — would be the keystone in a five year, $32.5 million strategic plan to benefit 400 households in Greater Cleveland through new home builds and repairs. Other funding will come from government and philanthropic donations.

“Through things as major as new homes to things as minor as some quick little repairs, we are trying to be comprehensive in our approach to Cleveland’s neighborhoods,” said Habitat for Humanity of Greater Cleveland CEO John Litten.

The money would come from Cleveland’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, a federal stimulus intended to benefit those hit hardest by the pandemic.

Habitat will focus on Cleveland’s Southeast Side, an area Mayor Justin Bibb announced plans to target through sweeping ARPA investments. Litten said in recent years, Habitat has built over $3 million in home equity in that part of the city.

“We like to do concentrated work in a neighborhood, you know, build a community rather than just building a house,” Litten said.

He said focusing on specific areas lowers crime rates in the neighborhood and increases property values. Other areas Habitat plans to invest in are Detroit Shoreward and Collinwood.

The only down payment required on the Habitat homes are service hours, including technical classes on budgeting and financial literacy. The mortgage rate is zero. Litten said their program has a 95% success rate for residents keeping their mortgages.

Part of the $5 million would go toward a down payment on purchasing their headquarters on the city’s West Side.

Abbey Marshall covers Cleveland-area government and politics for Ideastream Public Media.