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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History


The CUYAHOGA METROPOLITAN HOUSING AUTHORITY (CMHA), the nation's first such organization, was established as the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority in 1933, largely through the efforts of ERNEST J. BOHN†, its director until 1968. Also instrumental in the formation of CMHA was Monsignor ROBERT B. NAVIN†'s survey of a slum neighborhood. An independent public agency regulated by the Ohio Housing Board, CMHA was created as an advisory and coordinating entity to improve housing for low-income families and to eliminate slums. The passage of the U.S. Housing Act in 1937 enabled CMHA to plan, construct, and manage federally subsidized housing facilities, the first units being the Cedar Apartments (Cedar and E. 30th) and the Outhwaite Homes (E. 55th and Outhwaite Ave.). CMHA was granted authority to borrow money, issue bonds and notes, and appropriate property at fair market prices.

CMHA provided housing for war workers and their families during World War II, and for returning veterans after 1945. High-rise PUBLIC HOUSING for the elderly, such as the Golden Age Centers, was established in the mid-1950s and praised as a model; this idea later expanded to include family units. High crime statistics, charges of racial discrimination, and the Federal Housing Act of 1968 initiated changes in CMHA's approach. Tenant organizations requested more social-service programs and safer living conditions. The Housing Act provided for the rehabilitation of single-family units as scatter-site housing. In 1971, emphasizing a broader service area, the organization changed its name to the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority. A board of 5 unpaid members governs CMHA. Following the passage of the Federal Housing Act of 1974, CMHA has administered the "Section Eight Program," which allows selected families to choose their own housing throughout the county. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, scandals and financial and administrative problems plagued the agency, while crime in public housing continued to make headlines. In 1989 CMHA was located at 1441 W. 25th St.

In 1990 federal Dept. of Housing and Urban Development officials considered CMHAs bookkeeping procedures, centralizing operations, and increasing the occupancy rate to 96%, the CMHA under Freeman introduced two new residential drug treatment programs, Miracle Village and Recovery Village, on the grounds of the Outhwaite Homes in the Cedar Central neighborhood, that served as models for a national HUD initiative. In 1995 the agency was making preliminary plans to build between 450 and 680 new homes throughout the county that would allow more CMHA residents to become homeowners.

Ernest J. Bohn Collection, Freiberger Library, CWRU.

Navin, Msgr. Robt. B. "An Analysis of a Slum Area in Cleveland."

Last Modified: 05 Jan 2010 10:57:04 PM

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