Poverty Center Teams up with First Suburbs Consortium for Exploration of Regional code enforcement technology

At the Poverty Center, we’re all about neighborhoods. On a daily basis, we work to improve our regional housing market by providing a variety of resources to our partners. From managing integrated data systems (NEO CANDO), to trainings on our web-based tools, to research, we’re working hard to provide the data and tools necessary to enable neighbors, community development practitioners, and municipal governments advance the conversation around housing policy and neighborhood stability.

The First Suburbs Consortium and the Poverty Center are embarking on a new project examining existing municipal code enforcement data and making recommendations for improved shared technology tools. We want to learn more about how local governments in Cuyahoga County collect, manage, and share code enforcement data. This project is funded and supported by the Cleveland Foundation.

For those unfamiliar with the term, code enforcement is the prevention, detection, investigation and enforcement of violations of statutes or ordinances regulating public health, safety, and welfare, public works, business activities and consumer protection, building standards, land-use, or municipal affairs. [1]

Currently, we know that each city has its own method for collecting code enforcement data. Some cities have greater capacity to do code enforcement on their own, while other cities (with limited capacity) must license out code enforcement. With municipal budgets eroding, cities must find ways to cut cost and code enforcement is often one of the first departments to get cut.

The combination of differing methods for collecting code enforcement data and the cutting of code enforcement staff means that critical information about property condition is inconsistent across the county. This is a huge barrier to the creation of countywide housing policy and understanding homeowners’ programmatic needs, which could help better inform neighborhood stabilization programs and strategies.

To address this challenge, the Poverty Center will work with First Suburbs Consortium communities and relevant Cuyahoga County departments to learn more about Cleveland’s inner-ring suburbs’ current code enforcement procedures. Through this work, we will gain a deeper understanding of how cities collect and store code enforcement data.  Based on what we learn, we will make recommendations on how to align code enforcement data across the first suburbs so that consistent, reliable, and uniform information can be collected, and we can subsequently make recommendations for a shared code enforcement technology system.

Unifying data across municipalities would enable data to be shared through a powerful, regional integrated property data system where community development practitioners, researchers, and policy makers could access and use the data to better inform program and policy, as well as get a more comprehensive and holistic picture of the county’s housing market health. Additionally, subscribing to a singular, shared data system could help cities save money.

Follow this link to learn more about the Poverty Center, our work across Cuyahoga County, and to stay updated on our First Suburbs project.