It has been my observation that over the last ten years or so, Cleveland’s powers-that-be have tried to remake our community into a boutique town – a small community with businesses and activities that cater to the middle and upper class. I see the greatest changes in our downtown. When I was a boy in the 1970s, you had stores catering to people of all economic classes, including dollar stores. There was also a run-down railroad cutting downtown in half on which trains creaked along as they tied up traffic for 15 minutes or so. Now virtually all of the shops are geared towards people with plenty of disposable income and the railroad is long gone, replaced with a fitness trail that is landscaped better than some of Cleveland’s priciest homes.
Judging from just the downtown area, you would be hard pressed to believe that there are plenty of unemployed and underemployed Clevelanders who struggle to pay rents that are almost certainly higher than any other Delta town. Thanks to Delta State University, where virtually all of its students receive thousands of dollars in loans, the landlord cartel can charge top dollar for their rental properties and have no trouble finding tenants. The days of “affordable housing” are long over in Cleveland. Another fact that bothers me is that the homeless shelter closed a few months ago. Was it because there are no more homeless people in Cleveland, or was it, as I suspect, due to a lack of financial support? If there is so much money flowing into Cleveland, how was this allowed to happen?
It seems like there are actually two Clevelands – the prosperous one promoted by the Chamber of Commerce thanks in part to the thousands of dollars they get from the Italian Festivals and Octoberfests, and the poor Cleveland that is out of sight and out of mind.