Oh, Sell Me a Home


When residents took over the management of Cleveland's Lakeview Terrace housing project, most observers thought they were in over their heads. After all, a bunch of welfare mothers couldn't possibly have the skills to run public housing. But the tenants proved everyone wrong. They cleaned up the project, collected rents, and improved security in one of the city's worst complexes. (See "Revolution in the Projects," July.)

Now the tenants' association and a private developer have teamed up to refurbish the slums surrounding the project. Tenant managers and the owners of the nearby Nautica entertainment complex will repair 3,000 housing units in and around Lakeview Terrace. Developers promise that current residents' rents won't go up and that some of the new units will be reserved for low-income people. The rest will be sold or rented at market rates to families of any income. Developers are convinced that the area—near the waterfront and Cleveland's bustling downtown—can attract middle-class families once it is renovated.

If local housing authorities okay the plan, the tenant association will be co-owner of the new units. The association's share of the profits will fund social services and job-training programs for residents.

"Public housing doesn't work," developer Jeffrey P. Jacobs told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "The tenants have something—that site—that they can turn into something because of the fact that it's near the water and near the downtown. And we have the development skills to do it."