Union Miles Development Corp.
Neighborhood History & Organizational Context:
Cleveland’s Union Miles neighborhood origins begin with the old Village of Newburgh, a former township which once held the distinction of being Northeast Ohio's largest population and economic center in the early 19th century. The then "Village of Cleveland" 6 miles north was chronically plagued by swampy conditions and malaria outbreaks, with Newburgh benefiting from its more desirable location on higher ground.
Steel mills developed in the 1850's and 1860's and first arrived to Newburgh, drawing an influx of Irish and Welsh immigrants – followed in the late 19th century by Slovenian, Romanian and Czech newcomers. Cleveland also began to grow as a more significant port city with its more strategic coastal location on Lake Erie.
In 1893 Newburgh was fully annexed by the now larger City of Cleveland. Between 1910 and 1930 the Union Miles neighborhood’s population swelled from 11,000 to 28,000, with Cleveland eventually becoming the United States’ 5th largest city, home to over 900,000 people in 1950. The City housed the largest Slovenian and Hungarian populations outside of their native nations, many of whom chose to reside in Union Miles with its thriving industrial economy and city-wide streetcar connectivity.
Racial transitions began to occur in the 1960's and 1970's as the neighborhood's African-American population increased from approximately 10% in 1960 to 96.5% in 2010, coinciding with the decline of local manufacturing, increasing suburban sprawl enabled by the interstate highway system and general financial flight. The neighborhood's identity collectively shifted from one of aspirations and opportunity to "ground zero" for the national home foreclosure crisis of the 2000's – from which recovery is still underway.
In 1981, the Union Miles Development Corporation (UMDC) organized as a full service nonprofit community development corporation through a coalition of concerned citizens committed to improving quality of life across their neighborhood amidst the broad struggles associated with declining manufacturing.
Today, UMDC has a rejuvenated staff, refined mission and is implementing a series of cohesive placemaking plans (see attached 2018 Master Plan) designed to evoke both civic engagement and pride. Additional programs and services currently include storefront renovation, lease-purchase affordable homeownership, senior home repair, business assistance, youth leadership and multiple workforce development programs (listed in greater detail below). Since inception, UMDC has achieved success in the development of housing and retail projects while working to collectively bolster community pride through neighborhood planning activities.
Mission Statement: To improve the quality of life in the Union-Miles service area through community engagement, housing and economic development.