Beyond requests for individual property repairs and pleas for infrastructure improvements in their neighborhoods, Clevelanders who responded to the city’s surveys about the allocation of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars largely recognized the importance of targeting inequity if Cleveland is to recover from the pandemic.
While many respondents called for improved infrastructure citywide, just as many highlighted the need for free or affordable access to that infrastructure. Many respondents suggested using funds for a broadband internet network, for example; but nearly as many suggested that wi-fi should be free or low-cost for all City of Cleveland residents. New water and sewer pipes are needed urgently, too, some said, but so are affordable utility bills and the forgiveness of overdue payments due to pandemic hardship.
The City of Cleveland received more than 2,000 survey responses online and through the mail in July and August, when it solicited resident feedback for how it should spend upwards of $500 million. This public engagement was a precondition for receiving ARPA dollars. The city provided the responses in a September public records filing.
Themes that emerged throughout multiple responses were the need for modern public safety equipment, fairly compensated city employees, investments in the tree canopy and Lake Erie, and affordable housing. Many asked for increased pay for public safety workers and so-called “essential workers” who worked throughout the pandemic. A number of respondents wanted to see low- or zero-interest loans for home improvements for longtime homeowners. And many respondents desperately wanted their streets repaved.
Here’s a selection from the responses, harvested from the online survey.
“Water bills are the one outrageous expense of Cleveland. They are high because they are…