Racial Disparities in the Location of Safe, Affordable Housing in Cuyahoga County, Ohio

Blog post by Francisca García-Cobián Richter, Michael Henderson, Grace Harrison
September 2023

Center on Poverty and Community Development   (Cleveland)

This report depicts the residential rental landscape of Cuyahoga County, one in which segregation
continues to be intricately related to accessing good quality, affordable housing, with clear impacts on
the health and safety of its residents. The analysis shows that among neighborhoods with moderate
median rental values, there is a wide variation in the conditions of the housing stock and relatedly to the
risk of lead exposure. Neighborhoods with affordable housing and the highest shares of nonwhite
residents carry the burden of a deteriorated housing stock, which makes it more expensive to remediate
or mitigate lead hazards. Neighborhoods with affordable housing and low lead risk are few, yet they tend
to be found in the periphery of the county in areas where Black and other people of color were
historically excluded and where transportation costs may constitute yet another barrier to access. And
while tenant-based subsidized housing could provide a means to access higher quality, lead-safe
neighborhoods, we find that only a few neighborhoods with very low lead risk have at least 5% of rentals
linked with a housing choice voucher.

We highlight historical accounts of community action for racial equity in housing and draw from the data
analysis to raise relevant questions that can invigorate current efforts to improve lead hazard control and
housing stability, particularly for the most segregated areas in the county. The data analysis in this report
can serve as an input for community and other stakeholder discussions around these important
questions with the goal of advancing lead-safe housing equity in our region.