Climate Resiliency and Urban Opportunity Initiative
Climate change has different implications in the Great Lakes region than along the coasts. Instead of dealing with sea level rise, we face higher temperatures and more high heat days. According to the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Program (GLISA), temperatures are rising three times faster in Cleveland than elsewhere in the US. We also face an increased number of heat waves, increased flooding risks, and storms of greater frequency and intensity.
Cleveland has social conditions and land use patterns that may exacerbate the adverse effects of climate change. At the regional level, sprawling development without population growth has led to concentrated poverty in core city neighborhoods, redundant infrastructure, an increase in impervious surfaces, and growing economic and racial segregation. Climate-related challenges will not be experienced uniformly across the city and region. Topography, tree cover, development patterns, and social factors lead to geographically specific vulnerabilities.
The Cleveland Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity Plan includes a detailed assessment of the current and anticipated effects of climate change in the Midwest, along with mapping and analysis of Cleveland’s vulnerabilities, characterized by six social factors. The vulnerability mapping helps identify the parts of the city most likely to be at risk in the event of heat waves, heavy precipitation, or other extreme weather and will enable the city to target resources and programs to reduce risk.
Building on current local efforts to address the impacts of climate change, the plan details the Cleveland Climate Action Plan (CAP), Neighborhood Climate Action Toolkit, and Cleveland Climate Action Fund. It advances the recommendations of existing neighborhood initiatives, such as the city’s Complete & Green Streets ordinance, and the Re-imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland plan for vacant land reuse. It also aligns closely with the on-going efforts of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District to manage stormwater and reduce combined sewer overflows into Lake Erie from Greater Cleveland.
In this plan, we focus on four neighborhoods that are representative of conditions found in Cleveland and other Great Lakes cities:
Slavic Village: As the neighborhood at the epicenter of Cleveland’s foreclosure crisis, Slavic Village has many vacant houses and vacant lots, along with a high concentration of low-income households. Neighborhood assets include excellent transit and bike infrastructure and on-going programming that promote active lifestyles.
Central-Kinsman: Perhaps the most distressed neighborhood in the city, Central-Kinsman has a high poverty rate; many abandoned buildings, vacant sites, and brownfields; and a sparse tree canopy. The neighborhood is home to one of the city’s two eco-districts. It has a strong community development corporation with innovative programs to increase food access/food security and reduce public health disparities. The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority has made significant upgrades to public housing in the neighborhood in recent years.
Glenville: This neighborhood has some of the oldest housing in the city, including grand mansions, multi-family buildings, and small houses, along with pockets of new residential development. The neighborhood has highly engaged residents who meet at regularly scheduled Network Nights in order to advance local projects and address emerging concerns.
Detroit-Shoreway: This neighborhood is economically diverse, including some of the poorest and most affluent households in the city. It has excellent transit access and a thriving cultural district. It is home to the city’s other (and original) eco-district.
We have identified projects, programs, policies, engagement strategies, and future research to lessen overall demand for energy, anticipate and prepare for climate changes and shocks, and foster social cohesion.
Emerging priorities include:
• An expanded array of community engagement and education efforts, based on neighbors
talking with neighbors in lively, fun, and productive ways.
• Targeted expansion of home weatherization and energy efficiency programs.
• Strategic reforestation efforts to restore the urban tree canopy.
• Improved stormwater management.
• Enhanced local food security through urban agriculture at various scales.
• Better land use choices that reduce energy demand, foster social cohesion, and make
optimal use of the city’s growing inventory of vacant land.
• Funding pool/local grant program for neighborhood-generated projects and programs.
• An applied research agenda to help inform climate resilience efforts in Cleveland and
For more information about our proposal and the scope of the work, click here.
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Cleveland Neighborhood Progress’ work on climate resiliency is supported by: