Cleveland City Council approves $5 million in ARPA funds for Habitat for Humanity

On Monday, June 5, Cleveland City Council approved an ordinance to award $5 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. Habitat CEO John Litten says the money will be used to increase access to affordable homeownership in underserved Cleveland neighborhoods and to buy the organization’s headquarters building at 2110 W 110th Street in Cudell.

“This came out as City Council, especially Council president Blaine Griffin, worked to figure out what to do with ARPA funds,” says Litten, adding that this is the single largest gift the organization has ever received. “City Council saw fit to pull from their own funds and spread the money out over a few different wards.”

 Ward 15 Council member Jenny Spencer was a co-sponsor of the ordinance.

Litten says $4.5 million will go toward Habitat’s five-year, $32.5 million strategic initiative to build 50 new homes across five wards, perform rehabilitations, and make home repairs.

“We’ll touch 400 households over the next three-and-a-half years,” he says.

In addition to Griffin and Spencer, other key supporters include Ward 2 Council member Kevin Bishop, Ward 4 council member Deborah Gray, Ward 8 council member Michael Polensek, Ward 11 council member Danny Kelly, and the Cuyahoga Land Bank.

Each approved home applicant must complete Habitat’s Affordable Homeownership Program to become a Habitat Partner Family. Upon completion of the program, Habitat will sell the home to that family at no profit.

Habitat focuses on alleviating the cost of homeownership for its partner families, who have households with 30% to 80% of the area median income. Habitat homes are sold with a zero percent interest mortgage, and in lieu of a down payment, Habitat homebuyers contribute 200 to 300 volunteer hours.

Litten says the projects will be spread out among different underserved Cleveland neighborhoods. “We’re always going to focus on the southeast side, because that’s an area with the greatest need,” he says. “But Ward 11 councilman Danny Kelly said there hasn’t been any new houses built in his ward for years, it not decades. And we might be able to do this work in Collinwood and Ward 8, too. The hope is this will spark interest in other wards.”

The remaining $500,000 of the approved funds, coming from Ward 11 ARPA funds, will be spent to acquire and retrofit for future growth the building where Greater Cleveland Habitat is headquartered and houses one if its Re shop sites.

“We’ve been in the building for a couple decades,” he says, “now we’re going to purchase it.”

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: Karin Connelly Rice

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.