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Census Reveals Population Continues to Move Away From Cleveland

Populations in inner and Greater Cleveland suburbs drop, including Cleveland Heights

Like many inner-ring suburbs in Cleveland, the city of , according to the 2010 Census results. 

Among six cities within 10 miles of Cleveland that we surveyed, only one city's population grew, and by only .3 percent. Within 20 miles, eight of the 13 city populations dropped. Cities between 21 and 40 miles fared much better, with only two of the 10 we surveyed dropping in population. 

Census Results Suggest People are Continuing to Move Away From the City 

Some of the results were not surprising, said Robert L. Fischer, Ph.D. and co-director of Case Western Reserve University's Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development. 

"Using ( based on five-year samples, we had already seen much of this loss take place," Fischer said by e-mail. "For example, in Cleveland Heights, the ACS population estimate for 2005 to 2009 was 46,333, and the 2010 full count is very close at 46,121."

Cleveland, which lost a staggering 17 percent of its population, lost many more than the American Community Survey estimated, Fischer said. The ACS counted 439,013, but the Census, a more accurate measure, said 396,815 resided in the city.

Fischer cited the foreclosure crisis as one reason for the drop, adding that there were 14,000 foreclosure filings in Cuyahoga County each year from 2006 to 2010.

“The other matter that is well documented is that while the Cleveland population has declined markedly (-17 percent), the population in Cuyahoga County has not dropped as much (-8.2 percent) and the region has remained relatively flat (-2 percent),” he said. “Partly this reflects the migration of families out of the urban center and the sprawl of the metropolitan area that has been taking place since the 1950s. Certainly the shifts in the regional economy have also fueled these patterns as well.”

But Cleveland is not alone in this pattern: Fischer added that other major cities including Cincinnati, Toledo and Akron have seen similar population patterns.

There are outliers: Avon, for example, which grew by 85 percent in the past 10 years, saw the largest growth by a wide margin, and East Cleveland's drop at 34 percent is far from the next largest drop in Cleveland proper.

Community Development Block Grant Eligibility 

Cleveland Heights is still eligible for Community Development Block Grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, despite the population drop, said Brian Sullivan, spokesperson for HUD.

In Cleveland Heights, CDBG money helps fund senior programs, street, water and sewer maintenance, youth recreation centers, food banks, housing programs, and other essentials in the community, said City Council Member Mark Tumeo.

Cities can become what are called “entitlement communities” once their populations reach 50,000, Sullivan said, which means that despite population changes, they do not lose their eligibility for funding.

Susanna Niermann O'Neil, director of community services for Cleveland Heights, said that although the city is "grandfathered" into the program, she is not sure how the population change will affect funding. 

There are approximately 1,150 cities and counties nationwide that receive money from the program each year, he said.

“Part of what CDBG does is assist communities in decline,” Sullivan said, adding that 30 percent of the funds from the almost 40-year-old program go to every state to assist non-entitled areas, which include rural and small towns. “In fact, one of those formulas (to determine those entities that receive funding) is based on population, and the other is based on population growth lag, and that is just a fancy way of saying that those places aren’t growing as fast as the rest of the population or may even be losing population.”

The city received $1.9 million in CDBG money in 2010, but many fear the proposed 7 percent cut, or more, to the program by the federal government.

Though City Council continues to approve programs funded by the CDBG, the money is not guaranteed because the federal government has not passed the budget, Tumeo said.

“There are two different funds involved, the federal fiscal year in which the money comes in, and the contract year in which we fund it," he said. "Nobody has any idea of what they’re going to do."

City Miles from Cleveland Population Change (percent) Cleveland 0 -17 Brooklyn 6 -3.6 Lakewood 7 -8 East Cleveland 7 -34.4 Cleveland Heights 8 -7 Parma 9 -4.7 Independence 10 0.3 Westlake 15 3.2 Brecksville 16 2 Highland Heights 17 -3.1 North Olmsted 17 -4.1 Beachwood 19 -2 Solon 20 7 Strongsville 20 2 Avon 21 85 Mayfield Heights 22 -1.2 Avon Lake 23 25 Bath 24 0.6 Mentor 25 -6.2 Twinsburg 25 10 Fairlawn 29 1.7 Stow 35 8.4 Cuyahoga Falls 36 0.6 Kent 38 3.6 North Canton 55 -6.4

Editor's Note: Beachwood Patch editor Nikki Ferrell contributed to this report. In an earlier version of this story, the population of Avon Lake was incorrect. The city grew by 25 percent. 

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