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Cleveland City Council to help fund affordable senior housing in Gordon Square

W. 80th St. and Detroit in Cleveland's Gordon Square neighborhood
Abbey Marshall
Ideastream Public Media
The site for Karam Senior Living is at W. 80th St. and Detroit in Cleveland's Gordon Square neighborhood.

Cleveland City Council passed legislation Monday to help close a financing gap on affordable senior housing in Gordon Square.

Karam Senior Living has been on hold due to the pandemic and rising construction costs.

According to a presentation by the project’s developers at city council Monday, costs went up 40% during the pandemic and post-pandemic spike in inflation.

With council approval, the 51-unit apartment building located at West 80th Street and Detroit Avenue for low-income seniors is one step closer to its $22 million funding goal.

More than $10 million of that funding comes from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency’s low-income housing tax credit program.

Ward 15 Councilmember Jenny Spencer has been pushing for assistance for the project as housing costs rise in the West Side’s art district.

"A lot of our seniors absolutely want to stay in this neighborhood, it’s their neighborhood, but they don’t have a lot of options of where they can live affordably," Spencer said.

Council is considering approving an additional $1 million beyond the $2 million already granted through the city’s community development fund.

The developer, Northwest Neighborhoods Community Development Corporation, is expecting to close the rest of the financing gap by the end of the year and finish construction by the end of 2025.

Spencer said she's hopeful the city's commitment will encourage other funding agencies to invest in the project.

The first floor of the building will be a branch of Cleveland Public Library. The building, which will be independent living, is close by to St. Augustine Health Campus, which offers assisted living and nursing home services. Spencer said that will offer a good options for some of the senior residents.

Council's investment will come from the city's half-billion dollar pot of federal stimulus funds allocated by the American Rescue Plan Act. Those funds must be allocated by the end of 2024 and spent by the end of 2026. The city has allocated most of those funds already.

Other projects that received ARPA funds Monday include $500,000 to the Brenda Glass Multipurpose Trauma Center, $500,000 to the Near West Side Multi-Service Corporation, more commonly known as the May Dugan Center, and $2.5 million to Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation.

The Old Brooklyn project is market-rate apartments along Pearl Road. In a rarity for new housing in Cleveland, the developers are looking to move ahead without asking for Tax Increment Financing, better known as TIFs, from the city.

Developers typically spend the bulk of their expected tax payments on construction and infrastructure development. Cleveland still collects the taxes that go to the school system but the rest can be invested by the developer.

Councilmembers commented on the rarity of the decision by the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation to forego TIFs for this $30 million project.

“Everybody is going to want to know you pulled this off without TIFs and tax abatements,” said Council President Blaine Griffin.

Updated: October 10, 2023 at 12:43 PM EDT
The story has been updated to reflect council passage of the additional funding.
Abbey Marshall covers Cleveland-area government and politics for Ideastream Public Media.