Despite COVID-19 hindrances, City Fields still moving ahead

From left are Rusty Langford, City Fields Community Engagement coordinator; Tommey; Andrea Boddeker, Rotarian; and Dwight Richardson, Rotary Club president.

Posted Monday, June 15, 2020 9:36 am

City Fields Executive Director Dustin Tommey said during  a recent Cleveland Rotary Club meeting that while the pandemic has slowed the economy, his organization will continue its work revitalizing the Blythe-Oldfield neighborhood.
“There are still opportunities for growth,” Tommey said. “While the virus and current economics may be a hindrance, we are going to see growth regardless of COVID-19.”
City Fields is a community development organization that purchases homes and remodels them for resale to first-time homebuyers or public servants.
The houses resemble newly constructed homes, featuring new interiors, roofs and siding. Some, which had been divided into apartments over the years, are converted back into single-family homes that feature spacious open floor plans.
The organization’s work has been transformative for the struggling neighborhood, which has seen better times when it was bustling with residents, many of whom worked in the factories and mills that once dominated Cleveland’s downtown area. Today, 70% of the homes in the area are rental properties.
“Ownership is increasing,” Tommey said, adding that the organization will be soon working on its 10th home. “But it needs to increase.”
He explained that the organization’s work in building or rehabilitating older homes is not about the structures themselves.
“This is a social issue,” he said. “Not just buildings. The whole reason we are doing this is the people. We listen to neighborhood residents and value their input. Their stories matter.”