The HEIGHTS AREA PROJECT was established as the Cleveland Hts. Project by the JEWISH COMMUNITY FED. in 1969 in an attempt to halt or slow the move of JEWS and Jewish institutions out of CLEVELAND HTS. Supporting stabilization and neighborhood commitment marked a change from the post-World War II era, when the federation assisted organizations in moving from GLENVILLE and Kinsman as these neighborhoods became increasingly African American. By the late 1960s, Jewish institutions were concentrated in a small area, along and near S. Taylor Rd., to a greater degree than at any time previously.
With the desegregation of Cleveland Hts. in the 1960s, the Jewish Community Fed. feared the same kind of Jewish eastward flight that had characterized earlier changes in EAST CLEVELAND. To forestall that, the Jewish Community Fed. extracted promises to remain in the neighborhood from organization leaders. At the same time, the Cleveland Hts. Project was established to provide mortgage assistance for Jewish home buyers in the Heights, to "market" the neighborhood, to foster street clubs, and to lobby for improved city services. The project also cooperated with non-Jewish organizations to form the HEIGHTS COMMUNITY CONGRESS, trying to maintain and ensure orderly neighborhood integration. The Cleveland Hts. Project and the federation sponsored committees to deal with security and to guard against blockbusting and discriminatory real estate practices. In 1973 the federation blocked the Bureau of Jewish Education's move to BEACHWOOD. As the Jewish population increased in Cleveland Hts. and UNIV. HTS., the project expanded and changed its name to the Heights Area Project. Through the mid-1990s, the project provided a low-interest mortgage assistance program to assist Jewish families move into the Heights area, while maintaining its involvement in housing, education, and intergroup relations issues.
In 2001, the project was replaced by the Heights Jewish Strengthening Committee. The group sponsored social and educational events to encourage inclusivity within the increasingly diverse Jewish community that now included Jews from the former Soviet Union. Events were often held at the JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER in Cleveland Heights; this property was sold in 2005, and all activities relocated to the Mandel Jewish Community Center in Beachwood. According to the Jewish Community Fed., the Jewish population in Cleveland, University and SHAKER HTS. fell from 23,000 in 1996 to 22,200 in 2011, but the Heights remained the largest Jewish community; SOLON was close behind with 15,000 Jewish residents.
Updated by Marian Morton