Earlier this month, a record-high 150 attendees gathered in Cleveland, Ohio for CLPHA’s 2023 Summer Meeting, hosted by the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority. The three-day conference kicked off with a bus tour of numerous CMHA properties, allowing attendees to see the housing authority’s excellent examples of traditional public housing, recently completed tax credit and RAD properties, and other communities.
A highlight of the tour was a stop at Riverview Tower to see one of the largest urban farms in the country, where CMHA works with nonprofit Refugee Response to feed healthy food to the community and provide work opportunities to refugees and CMHA residents. The bus tour concluded at Woodhill Homes, which is currently undergoing a massive redevelopment with help from a Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grant and development partner The Community Builders.
From left to right: Sunia Zaterman, CLPHA Executive Director; Jeffery K. Patterson, CLPHA Board President and Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority CEO; HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge; Congresswoman Shontel Brown (D-OH); Gerard Holder, CLPHA Legislative Director. Photo Credit: Julia Wright, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority.
Meeting attendees visit the urban farm at CMHA's Riverview Tower. Photo credit: Julia Wright, CMHA.
For our one-and-a-half days of conference sessions, CMHA organized a full agenda. Blaine A. Griffin, Cleveland City Council President, and Chris Ronayne, Cuyahoga County Executive, kicked off the meeting with remarks about how the city and county are prioritizing affordable housing through centering integrated development, advancing homeownership opportunities, and expanding affordable housing supply. They also stressed CMHA’s important role in these efforts, with Council President Griffin noting that “CMHA is not only a member of our community, but a pillar of Cleveland.”
Following our always inspiring Ripples of Hope session, where attendees shared achievements and good news from their communities, Richard J. Monocchio, the newly appointed Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing, stressed his commitment to visiting as many PHAs across the country to hear about their successes and learn what HUD can do to help them meet the needs of their residents.
PDAS Monocchio addresses summer meeting attendees. Photo credit: Julia Wright, CMHA.
After lunch, a panel of community leaders, moderated by Dr. Mark L. Joseph of Case Western Reserve University, discussed how redlining created inequities in the areas of housing, health, food, and digital inclusion across Cleveland and how local partners are working together to redress those inequities today. Panelists from University Hospitals, the Cleveland Food Bank, the Cleveland Foundation, and Digital C shared how they are collaborating with CMHA and other organizations that serve low-income Clevelanders to “greenline” the city and bring crucial housing, health, food, and internet services to parts of the city historically left behind.
The next panel continued the conversation around the importance of forming strong partnerships with local agencies and philanthropic organizations to expand housing opportunities and improve life outcomes for low-income individuals. Representatives from the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, the St. Luke’s Foundation of Cleveland, and HUD’s local field office shared how they work with CMHA to finance and develop affordable housing while also fostering resident engagement and empowerment.
Our last panel of the day centered the experience of CMHA residents, with current and former CMHA Resident Commissioners and leaders discussing how and why they chose leadership roles in their communities, what they see as the biggest challenges in these positions, and how they work in collaboration with both CMHA and their neighbors so that residents’ needs are met and voices are heard. CMHA’s Chief of Police also discussed his department’s commitment to building trust between residents and the police department and leading with the mindset of serving the community rather than simply “policing” them.
Our day concluded with a raucous reception at the world-famous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where attendees enjoyed refreshments, mingled with their peers, and toured the museum’s expansive exhibits.
Our final morning of sessions began with a panel comprised of CLPHA member executive directors from Ohio PHAs. Leaders from the Columbus, Akron, Cincinnati, Lucas, and Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authorities shared success and challenges from their respective communities, discussed best practices for working with your housing authority’s board, and contemplated the future of the public housing industry.
Next, representatives from CMHA, HAI Group, and law firm McDonald Hopkins LLC discussed the pressing issue of PHA cybersecurity, touching on best practices for preventing cyberattacks, mitigating security risks, and handling cybersecurity incidents after they occur. CMHA spoke about their experience with a cybersecurity attack, how they recovered from it, and what they wished they had known before it happened.
Cleveland Mayor Justin . Bibb addresses summer meeting attendees. Photo credit: Julia Wright, CMHA.
Our meeting concluded with remarks from several high-profile government officials. Cleveland Mayor Justin M. Bibb stopped by to welcome attendees to Cleveland and praise the good work that CMHA does to serve low-income Clevelanders. Congresswoman Shontel Brown (D-OH), who represents Cleveland in the House of Representatives, also welcomed the audience to the city and reaffirmed her commitment to fighting on behalf of low-income families in Congress, citing in particular the importance of addressing food insecurity, revitalizing public housing infrastructure, and advancing digital equity for disconnected communities.
Finally, HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge closed the meeting with uplifting remarks expressing her resolve to advocate for the resources that PHAs need to serve their communities in the face of alarming news about House Republicans’ proposals to drastically cut HUD’s budget. “We need you more than we have ever needed you before,” she told attendees, adding that while we will not be able to fix the whole system alone, we can and will make an impact on the people we serve.
From left to right: HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge, Rep. Shontel Brown, and Jeffery K. Patterson. Photo credit: Julia Wright, CMHA.
CLPHA extends our deepest appreciation to Jeffery K. Patterson, CLPHA Board President and CMHA CEO, and the CMHA staff for all of the time and effort they put in to organize and host such an engaging and informative conference. We would also like to thank our sponsors for their support of this event: Bronner Group, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, Du & Associates, HAI Group, Nan McKay & Associates, The Community Builders, Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, MRI Software, Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority, CVR Associates, KeyBanc Capital Markets, TFG Housing Resources, Taft, Yardi, and Roetzel & Andress.