Measuring and Evaluating Neighborhood Change

http://cedam.info/2016/09/neighborhood-change/

Written by Nina Holzer, Manager of CDC Advancement, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress

We’ve all seen them. Article after article highlighting the comeback of cities, flocking of millennials to urban centers and revitalization of downtown. Many rust belt cities, whose population numbers plummeted over to the course of the past fifty years, are starting to see a deceleration in population decrease.

Cleveland’s Revitalization

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“Cleveland’s downtown now boasts a 97% occupancy rate, has seen $6 billion in investment between 2008 and 2015 and has seen a 79% population increase since 2000[1].”

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cleveland-454067_1920Cleveland, a city once booming with a population of nearly one million, teeters near the 400,000 mark. Though the city’s population has more than halved, the tides have started to turn. Cleveland’s downtown now boasts a 97% occupancy rate, has seen $6 billion in investment between 2008 and 2015 and has seen a 79% population increase since 2000[1]. Many surrounding neighborhoods are also seeing positive development, with increased property values new construction and rehab projects and fewer vacant storefronts in their commercial districts. This good news for Cleveland is also the good news for many cities across the Midwest, from Detroit to Minneapolis.

Ensuring Equitable and Inclusive Change

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“Therefore, as Midwestern cities re-populate and grow it is imperative that community developers get ahead of this positive development to ensure that neighborhood change is inclusive and equitable, especially for those residents who are not benefitting from the progress.”

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Though this news is exciting, we still have a long way to go and much work to do. In many cases, development is uneven, with certain segments of the population benefitting while others continue to be left behind. Cleveland continues to be highly segregated, with many predominantly African American neighborhoods dealing with blighted and/or abandoned housing; negative health outcomes and health disparities; high poverty and unemployment rates; and poor schools and education outcomes. These are realities that we cannot ignore as our city changes.

Therefore, as Midwestern cities re-populate and grow it is imperative that community developers get ahead of this positive development to ensure that neighborhood change is inclusive and equitable, especially for those residents who are not benefitting from the progress. One way to do so is by digging into available data and making strategic, data-informed decisions.

The Progress Index and Using the Data

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“Every CDC gets an updated dashboard for their service area and neighborhood on a yearly basis, thus allowing them to identify trends and develop strategies to address issues gleaned from the numbers in their dashboard report.”

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cnp-logo-pms-2Several years ago, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress partnered with the Center on Poverty and Urban Development at Case Western Reserve University to develop a progress metric dashboard for our community development corporations called The Progress Index. This index uses publicly-available data housed in the Poverty Center’s NEO CANDO database, as well as other data pulled from the center’s CHILD and NST integrated data systems, to create a dashboard of indicators of interest to our local CDCs. The dashboard first looks at two primary Progress Metrics: median sale price of homes and median household income. Next, the dashboard digs deeper and explores other indicators that drive neighborhood vitality and success: diversity, education, housing, household makeup, income mix, population, quality of life, housing stabilization and vacancy. Every CDC gets an updated dashboard for their service area and neighborhood on a yearly basis, thus allowing them to identify trends and develop strategies to address issues gleaned from the numbers in their dashboard report.

In addition to equipping CDCs with the data necessary for evaluating change in their neighborhoods, CNP has also developed Performance Standards which synthesize nonprofit and community development best practices. This allows us to further build and support the capacity of CDCs so that they are best positioned to stay ahead of the curve and meet new demands or changing dynamics in their neighborhood.

Join us on November 10 at Destination: Vibrant Communities to Learn More

Interested in learning more about Cleveland Neighborhood Progress’ model for comprehensive community development and strategy measuring and evaluating neighborhood change? Join us in a discussion about assessing CDC capacity, creating a dashboard to evaluate neighborhood change and developing standards for community development best practice at Destination: Vibrant Communities 2016.

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