Slavic Village Development works with and for its residents, businesses, and institutions to promote civic engagement, community empowerment, and neighborhood investment.
LETTER FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
The gardeners among us have a special fondness for winter. During this time, the ground lies fallow while plants go dormant, awaiting the warmth of spring. Gardeners are also planning for the return of the sun by buying seeds, outlining their plots, and gathering resources to spring into action.
The last couple of years has felt like winter for communities across the globe. But we have been planning for the sun to return. We have been building leadership capacity among our Community Stewards. Hundreds of current residents and dozens of businesses have received help during this extended cold spell. Plans for new residential, commercial, and industrial development are either beginning or just coming to fruition. And we are getting ready to start a new neighborhood-wide Master Plan, the first in over a decade.
We are growing together, SVD and the neighborhoods of Broadway-Slavic Village. The sun has come again.
Chris Alvarado, Executive Director
Broadway Slavic Village to Receive EcoDistricts Certification
Slavic Village Development expects the Broadway Slavic Village Road Map to be EcoDistricts-Certified by the calendar year 2022. The District team, comprised of a majority of BSV residents to stakeholders–12:11–have worked to access the neighborhood’s strengths, challenges, and opportunities for growth for nearly 24 months under the three pillars of EcoDistricts Protocol: Resiliency, Equity, and Climate Protection.
EcoDistricts Protocol is a comprehensive framework that guides community and urban development. Over the course of two years, the District team learned about the process of neighborhood planning, residents, and stakeholder engagement and is working on a neighborhood plan by collaboration and consensus. The team also developed a Declaration of Collaboration between team members, created a resident and stakeholder survey based on six areas of priority within the EcoDistricts Protocol (place, prosperity, health and wellbeing, connectivity, living infrastructure, and resource restoration), and have been workshopping strategies and indicators related to each of the District team’s goals. The District team’s work will be compiled into the comprehensive road map by ReThink Advisors, which EcoDistricts will then review for certification.
The road map requires the adoption of its goals and strategies by the wider Broadway Slavic Village community in order to be successful. Every two years, the District team will review indicators, adjust strategies as necessary and recertify the road map in collaboration with the neighborhood. The road map will also inform SVD’s master planning process beginning next year.
Gearing Up for Our Master Plan
SVD will be gearing up for a master planning process beginning at the start of the 2023 calendar year. Working from a master plan published before the housing market collapse, the organization responded quickly to the massive hemorrhaging in 2008. Speaking to the organization’s agility at that time but now going into 2023, we understand the need to reflect on the work we’ve done since 2008, where that work has and continues to make change, and what recommendations we can make based on alternative scenarios of growth. The master plan will be an inclusive, transparent process. We seek collaboration and consensus with residents, stakeholders, and our elected officials within a local and regional context while remaining sensitive to neighboring and overlapping plans that may impact Broadway Slavic Village’s future. SVD expects the EcoDistricts Road Map to be certified by the end of the year which was developed by a District team of 12 residents and 11 community stakeholders. The Broadway Slavic Village Road Map will be the foundation from which the master plan is developed.
Neighborhood Stabilization Report
The figure demonstrating our Neighborhood Stabilization Strategy is that Slavic Village saw an increase in overall occupancy by 48%. This dramatic rise was coupled with the third year of decrease in severely distressed properties, which for the first time since 2013 is just under 100 properties or approximately 1%. The average Slavic Village homeowner in 2022 emerged from the pandemic lockdown to find a home in better repair and with stable value. Although an overheated housing market can take a small amount of credit for the increase in value, the increase in repair is what ultimately ensures livability. Therefore, stability was not the result of any invisible hand but rather the work of Slavic Village outreach staff connecting residents to resources as a critical part of our Stabilization Strategy.
With these metrics of increased occupancy and decreased condemned properties, our Stabilization Strategy now shifts to protecting the gains that have been made. Slavic Village has expanded its advocacy of tenants’ rights to live in safe and decent housing and continued to pursue targeted intervention of fundamental strategic properties. Recent tenant advocacy has yielded over $10,000 in settlement awards to area tenants who were overpaying in rent relative to rental conditions. Moreover, civil nuisance litigation has resulted in additional priority acquisitions for rehab using legal remedies to ensure that negligent vacant properties can be restored. As we look to the future, SVD is pursuing additional grants to directly support pilot projects that proactively support resident support to ensure this community remains stable and resilient for generations.
Helping folks obtain and maintain residence in healthy, safe, and secure housing is one of the integral components of SVD’s mission. From major repairs such as entire roof and gutter replacement, large-scale electrical rewiring, and porch repair to boilers, doors, and safety railings, we’ve helped neighborhood residents maintain the integrity and comfortability of their houses. We assisted residents in staying in their homes when they’d fallen on hard times, were facing eviction, or needed the cost of a security deposit or first month’s rent covered when moving into a new rental unit. Additionally, we disbursed resources for emergency situations, from keeping the water or lights on to helping replace belongings after a crisis. At Slavic Village Development, we are incredibly fortunate in our relationships with our community partners, enabling us to distribute nearly $75,000 in direct aid to residents, serving over 600 households in 2022 alone.
Broadway Optical Expansion
Dr. Stephen Figler, the owner of Broadway Optical (7211 Broadway Avenue), has been an Optometrist in Slavic Village since June 1991. Broadway Optical provides general vision exams, emergency eye service, glasses, and contact lenses. In his practice, Dr. Figler is accompanied by his wife, Heather Figler, as his office manager and an additional four staff members.
Dr. Figler/Broadway Optical had been a tenant in the building, and in 2020 he was given the opportunity to purchase the building. “I stayed in Slavic Village to help Slavic Village. I did not want to be another doctor to move out of the area, regardless of recruitment attempts.”
With assistance from the City of Cleveland Economic Development, Dr. Figler was able to purchase the building and move his practice from the basement to the 1st Floor. Dr. Figler’s investment has a total of over $250,000 in his renovation of this building.
Tree Planning and Planting
Slavic Village Development was recently awarded a Healthy Urban Tree Canopy grant from Cuyahoga County Planning Commission in the amount of $21,385.87 for the 2022 grant cycle. The HUTC funding supports the organization’s tree canopy goals for the ReForest Slavic Village project and is matched with a $7,500 grant from the Cleveland Tree Coalition. ReForest Slavic Village is now in its third phase, focusing on tree planning and planting with maintenance for existing trees to begin right away. Building off two previous phases of ReForest Slavic Village, SVD will plant 20 new trees on vacant lots at Spafford and Worley Ave in conjunction with the planning and construction of a new pocket park near AB Hart Elementary in collaboration with residents.
ReForest Slavic Village is supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from the Cuyahoga County Healthy Urban Tree Canopy Grant Program.
Cleanups are Underway Across Broadway Slavic Village
Cleanups are underway across Broadway Slavic Village neighborhoods. From July 2021 to June 2022 fiscal year, SVD hosted, partnered with and requested cleanups for 20 locations across the service area. Seven cleanups were led by SVD, 1 with Ohio & Erie Canalway, 2 with Cleveland Central Catholic, and 7 cleanups were requested from Court Community Service. CCS cleared 60 tires, 341 bags of litter and 80 yards of by request. Nearly 1000 volunteers were coordinated over the fiscal year across the 20 locations; additionally, 225 individual City of Cleveland parcels were cleaned of trash and debris as part of the organized cleanups.
This past year the youth in Slavic Village have shown such resilience and a significant level of achievement. Over the last five years, high-quality preschools have been a goal for our neighborhood. 50% of our preschools are 5-star, the highest rating for an early childcare center. The Third Grade Reading Guarantee is an indicator of grade-level reading, 83% of our scholars are meeting and exceeding this merit. Cleveland Central Catholic continues to excel with a graduation rate of 97% and an 87% college acceptance rate. Academic success in our neighborhood schools and classrooms is very important! For our scholars to become well-rounded, successful young adults, we have rallied many community organizations and businesses to provide enriching out-of-school experiences. Ten organizations and schools provided a safe, fun learning environment over the summer for 600+ children! Youth 14-18 earned $8,500 + collectively working in local businesses, churches, and schools over the summer. Lastly, youth leadership and development remain a top priority. We currently have six youth groups of 60+ youth who exercise leadership, advocacy, and serve as a council to voice their viewpoints on current neighborhood conditions. We plan to increase the quality of service and experiences for every youth in our neighborhood to support their goals and dreams from early childhood to adulthood.
Community Stewards Paint New Curb Extensions in Warszawa to Calm Traffic
Slavic Village Community Stewards worked together this spring to paint 11 new curb extensions in the Warszawa neighborhood in an effort to calm traffic. The group worked tirelessly for the better part of three years to secure a street painting permit through City of Cleveland and supplies for temporary street improvements from NOACA’s Street Supplies Program. The Stewards also worked with the city to collect data on traffic before, during and after the project took place. The group held neighborhood meetings to discuss the data that was collected, share design options and progress along the way. They also mailed flyers to community members outlining the project and its benefit to the community. Warszawa Triangle is located between E. 65th and E. 71st between Fleet and Broadway Avenue. The Stewards leading the project hope to expand street painting to commercial districts, creating a sense of place and a colorful pop of impact they hope will make streets safer for all.
Rooms To Let
After months of community street cleanups and art installation work, the project culminated July 10th-11th in a festival-like atmosphere; three historic commercial buildings were activated with work from 102 artists and musicians. 170 artists and/or cultural professionals were involved with the event and 50 volunteers. 1,000 adults attended and 200 children.
Rooms To Let: CLE is supported by grant funding from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture Project Support and The Fowler Foundation. Of its 2022 budget of $9,000, $8,000 was paid to artist stipends and $1,000 was paid to musicians. A BIG THANK YOU to Ingenuity Cleveland for their technical and logistical support for this project.
Celebrate Slavic Village
This year, we were delighted to honor Chris Smetana, Mary Ellen Gardner, and Marlane Weslian, three strong women who have made SVD a leader in the community development field while continuing to be responsive to our neighborhood.
Chris has served Slavic Village Development in many roles, including; treasurer, board president, and eight different committee positions. Her tenure at SVD spans from 1987-2017. Mary Ellen was an employee of Slavic Village Development from 2000-2011, served on the board for several terms, and has held a variety of leadership positions. She has worked in the affordable housing industry since 1990. Marlane’s life work consists of serving the community for 40 years. In 1978 she was a volunteer and board member of Citizens to Bring Broadway Back. Later she became the director of Broadway Development Corporation which became Slavic Village Development in 1998.
We would like to thank our sponsors that made the event possible! Thank you to: The NRP Group; PNC; Enterprise Community Partners, Community Assessment & Treatment Services; Kurtz Bros.; Morabito Trucking; VEDA; Cleveland Cliffs; Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District; and Northern Stamping, Inc.
Small Grant Program
Friends of Slavic Village is a small grant program graciously funded by the Third Federal Foundation. Its mission is to bring together Broadway Slavic Village’s best asset–the many strong corporate, civic, and resident leaders committed to our community’s well-being–to enhance our quality of life and promote a healthy image of our community.
The Mini-Grants are available quarterly, funding projects up to $500, which Slavic Village Residents review. From June 2021 through today, 18 grants have been funded, totaling approximately $9,000.
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