Ground Zero in the nation’s housing foreclosure crisis was Slavic Village, an old ethnic neighborhood of Cleveland in the zip code that had the most foreclosures in the country in 2007. But rather than surrendering, the neighborhood fought back. In doing so, it gave the nation an example of how government – like Councilman Tony Brancatelli – and the citizenry – including both newcomers like Jeremy Salupo and old-timers in Polish ethnic groups – can work together to reclaim a venerable but troubled neighborhood.
Mike Malak sits on the curb as his childhood home is demolished on East 72nd Street. When his mother died, Malak discovered the house was all but worthless. When the demo work was done, he drove to the cemetery where his parents are buried to explain to them what he had done.(George Condon)
Polish folk dancers participate in the annual Polish Constitution Day in the Warszawa Historic District section of Slavic Village, a sign that its ethnic roots remain strong even as the neighborhood changes. The decision to move the parade to the suburbs was a low point for the neighborhood but they fought back with an event even bigger than the one that moved away.(George Condon)
Jeremy Salupo, 28, has lost money on this new home that he bought in Slavic Village in 2009. But he hasn’t lost his belief in Slavic Village. A general contractor, he is a member of Bethel Cleveland, a religious group that is trying to revitalize the neighborhood(George Condon)
A common sight in Slavic Village where abandoned houses are routinely stripped of siding as far up as the vandals can reach. Inside the houses, anything copper or of value is taken quickly.(George Condon)
Councilman Tony Brancatelli, a tireless champion of the neighborhood, checks a map at the offices of the Slavic Village Development Corporation. Red signifies homes that are open, vacant, and vandalized. There are more than 100 splashes of red on this map.(George Condon)
Vandals have long since stripped anything of value from this vacant house on East 72nd Street. Flipped at least five times since 2005, it was sold online most recently sight unseen for $4,000 to a couple in Hawaii who hoped for quick profits but instead will find themselves paying for demolition.(George Condon)