By: Ivan T. Conard, Intern, Community Impact and Engagement
During my internship with the Center for Community Solutions, I embarked on a journey that allowed me to dive deep into the heart of Cleveland’s neighborhoods. Through surveys conducted via handwritten notes, verbal discussions, and digital links, I gained invaluable insights into the challenges faced by the community. Let’s investigate the findings of our survey and answer the call to action to address the pressing financial concerns that continue to affect families in the Cleveland area.
Through surveys conducted via handwritten notes, verbal discussions, and digital links, I gained invaluable insights into the challenges faced by the community.
Uncovering the reality in the Buckeye-Woodhill neighborhoods
Our survey reached 90 individuals, spanning ages 18 to 65, with a significant representation of over ninety percent identifying as Black/African-American and nearly eighty percent women. The respondents are residents of the Buckeye-Woodhill Neighborhoods on the east side of Cleveland. The survey focused primarily on three key areas: housing, job opportunities, and childcare. The responses shed light on the critical issues faced by families and individuals in our community.
Nearly half of respondents report housing struggles
A staggering number of survey participants, nearly half, disclosed that they or someone they knew had encountered housing problems. A prevailing theme that emerged was the difficulty of managing ever-increasing rental payments. Many interviewees expressed the need for rental assistance and support to maintain consistency in meeting these payments. Others, renting their homes shared concerns with the safety and upkeep of structural matters out of their control and instead that of the property owners. The housing crisis looms large, and it’s evident that action is needed to ensure stable living conditions for all.
Many individuals shared their experiences of working multiple jobs to make ends meet due to the low wages they receive.
Job opportunities and low wages lead to residents working multiple jobs
The dialogue around job opportunities revealed a paradoxical situation. While it’s not necessarily challenging to find work, the crux lies in finding jobs that offer fair wages. Many individuals shared their experiences of working multiple jobs to make ends meet due to the low wages they receive. The struggle for decent-paying and sustainable employment persists, making it imperative to explore avenues for better job prospects in our community.
Childcare costs are a significant financial burden on families
The cost of childcare emerged as a major concern, impacting the lives of families significantly. Respondents highlighted the substantial financial burden associated with childcare expenses. To alleviate these costs, many turned to family, friends, or sought vouchers to reduce the overall expenditure. Then there are those who are unable to access vouchers for childcare, regardless of an income that categorizes most as the “working poor” which can barely sustain average living expenses. The challenge of balancing work and childcare is real, and it’s time we address this issue head-on.
Actions we can take to build a stronger community together
The findings from our survey paint a clear picture – financial concerns continue to weigh heavily on families throughout Cleveland. Families grapple with childcare expenses, struggle to pay rent, and find it challenging to secure well-paying jobs. But the time for action is now.
Join the Movement for Change: How You Can Help
- Engage in meaningful conversations: Share your insights and ideas on social media, at community events, and within your circles. Engaging in conversations can spark new perspectives and solutions.
- Support local initiatives: Volunteer your time, skills, or resources to organizations already working to alleviate financial burdens. Your contribution can make a direct impact on the lives of those in need.
- Advocate for policy change: Reach out to local leaders and policymakers, advocating for policies that promote affordable housing, better job opportunities, and accessible childcare.
- Be part of the solution: Whether through mentorship, training programs, or direct support, contribute to finding solutions to the challenges highlighted in the survey.
- Donate and raise awareness: Financial contributions to relevant organizations can go a long way in supporting initiatives. Use your voice and platforms to raise awareness about the issues.
- Stay engaged: Keep yourself updated on progress and developments in addressing financial concerns in Cleveland. Your knowledge can drive further engagement.
Let’s rally together as a community, collaborate, and create positive change.
Let’s rally together as a community, collaborate, and create positive change. By addressing these financial concerns, we can create a brighter future for families and individuals throughout Cleveland. Join the movement, take action, and let’s make a lasting impact on the lives of those who need it the most.
Ivan Conard is a Licensed Social Worker and Research Associate at the Center on Trauma and Adversity at Case Western Reserve University. He spent the summer interning with The Center for Community Solutions and the Community Impact and Engagement team. His research interests are centered around trauma-informed practice, healing-centered engagement, and building trauma-informed systems.