CLEVELAND (WJW) – Jeffrey Ivey is normally very busy in the month of February, taking pictures at art shows and other Black History events in Cleveland.
This year, however, the 60-year-old freelance photographer is locked up in the Cuyahoga County Jail for failing to make timely repairs to a century home that once belonged to his grandmother.
“He had an event he was suppose to be at Friday,” said his longtime friend, Gina Washington.
She added that he also works part-time at a local store to try and make ends meet.
“He is trying but these repairs are expensive,” she said.
The Cleveland Municipal Housing Court Judge W. Mona’ Scott in January sentenced Ivey to 90 days in jail for failing to make repairs to the East Boulevard home.
He has been ordered to fix housing code violations since 2019.
“I have been doing the best I can to achieve what the judge asked me to do,” Ivey said during a phone call from the jail. “I don’t think the crime fits the punishment anyway at all. Especially in the world of COVID, I have had issues with contractors and other people who couldn’t do the work timely.”
His friends say they don’t understand how violent offenders are allowed to remain free while he is locked up for misdemeanor nonviolent offenses.
“He is in a place where people go for doing bad things,” said Vanessa Jones. “What did he do bad? He couldn’t afford to keep up the house. That makes him bad?“
The I-Team recently reported that a man got probation for wounding an EMS captain.
We tried to talk to Judge Scott to talk about the punishment for Ivey, but were told the judge was busy hearing cases. We also wanted to talk to the judge about how housing court cases are enforced.
We took a look at housing enforcement records with the city of Cleveland. Records for last year show a sharp drop in enforcement for building and housing violations.
We found inspections down at their lowest level in years and demolitions down 80% from a few years ago.
“It just breaks my heart. That a good man. A man that helps others and doesn’t hurt anyone is sitting in jail,” Jones said.
Ivey’s friends have started a GoFundMe account to help him raise money to make the repairs so he can stay out of jail in the future.