It’s a fact that refugees, the world’s most desperate immigrants, need a place to live. It’s equally obvious that Cleveland has plenty of empty houses.

Four years ago, then city councilman Joe Cimperman had an idea. He had witnessed the wonders taking place at Thomas Jefferson International Newcomers Academy, where city school children from around the world get started in America.

What if, he thought, those children could walk to school? What if the nearby abandoned homes were restored and made available to their families?  That idea crystalized into a project called International Village.

Working in partnership with Metro West Development Corporation, Global Cleveland is leading an effort to revitalize the neighborhood around Cleveland’s English immersion school with migrant families from Puerto Rico and refugee families from everywhere. The vision is to repopulate the neighborhood with newcomers, small businesses and school children.

The re-development effort has attracted much public and private support. In May of 2017, the Cleveland Foundation endorsed the concept with an $180,000 grant, which will allow the project to accelerate.

Since quietly being launched in 2016, about a dozen homes have been restored into homes that now house families. Another 25 properties are being targeted.

Working with the city of Cleveland, Metro West will take ownership of 20 or so abandoned homes each year, then restore and sell them to pre-screened investors for $7,000. Those investors are required to rent the homes to newcomers.

The International Village project is a unique economic development model that taps the energy and aspirations of immigrants. Some of the newcomer families have another name for the village. They call it the “dream neighborhood.”


To learn more about International Village, contact project director Jazmin Long at; 216-472-3282

We are grateful to these supporters who have helped Global Cleveland become a reality