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A $700,000 grant will help save blighted, vacant homes and beautify CLE neighborhoods

Karin Connelly Rice of Freshwater Cleveland:

Ever since the real estate housing crash in 2008, Cleveland communities have been faced with tackling the problem of vacant and blighted homes—pulling down property values and aesthetic appeal in neighborhoods already struggling.

According to Justin Fleming, director of real estate for Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP), there are about 9,500 vacant homes in the City of Cleveland. “I’d estimate that approximately 4,500 of those are structurally capable of being rehabbed within a reasonable budget,” he says. “The other 5,000 are likely structurally too far gone to reasonably save.”

But thanks to a three-year, $700,000 grant given to CNP by Detroit-based Quicken Loans, some of those homes with rehab potential will get that much-needed work. The grant is meant to provide CNP with funding for its efforts to stabilize housing markets and revitalize city neighborhoods.

“We’re really excited about this partnership with Quicken Loans,” says CNP president and CEO Joel Ratner. “We were looking for ways to rehab more homes to not only increase home ownership, but to also get these houses back on the tax rolls. We’ve been talking to them for a long time, and they’re also interested in [addressing] blight.”

Read the whole story here.


People Working Cooperatively “Ramp it Up for Veterans” WCPO telethon raises $50,000 for veterans

Last week, Cincinnati-OCDCA member People Working Cooperatively, in partnership with WCPO conducted a telethon to raise funds to aid disabled and low-income elderly veterans with critical home repairs. In a four hour time span, the telethon raised over $50,000.

“The impact will be huge for these hometown heroes who are waiting for emergency home repairs, home modifications and more.”

Get the whole story here.


Cincinnati’s first minority-owned brewery coming to Walnut Hills in 2018

Exciting news coming out of Cincinnati, regarding an entrepreneur dedicated to revitalization, two OCDCA members, and beer…sweet, sweet, local beer.

Allison Smith Cohen of Soapbox Cincinnati:

“Recently announced Esoteric Brewing Company has several tactics for setting itself apart from others, starting with the fact that it will be the first minority-owned brewery in the city. Founder and CEO Brian Jackson honed his skills at MadTree before deciding to set off on his own; he’s also a MORTAR grad.

“’Esoteric’ means ‘sophistication,’” says Jackson. “We’re trying to elevate the palates of customers and the entire experience of people coming to breweries in Cincinnati.”

He plans to offer a diverse selection of brews, which will include local favorites like traditional American IPAs and stouts, as well as more complex beers like his award-winning Belgian quadruple, Nirvana.

Jackson picked a location that matches that sense of style and sophistication: the historic Paramount building in Walnut Hills, which was once known as Cincinnati’s “second downtown.”

The beautiful Art Deco-style building from 1910 has sat empty for a decade, but was purchased last year by the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation, and is currently undergoing renovations. Partnering with several community organizations, Esoteric plans to use the roaring ’20s vibe of the space to create a modern speakeasy.”

Read the whole story here.


CareSource Foundation makes significant contribution for social determinants of health

(Front, L to R) Emily Seibel, Judy Jackson, Cathy Ponitz, Jamar Doyle, (Back, L to R) Steve Torsell, Nate Coffman

On October 6th, Ohio CDC Association announced a major gift from and exciting new partnership with the CareSource Foundation for the new Empowering Communities initiative. 

Community development organizations need a mechanism to synthesize ideas and neighborhood feedback to develop innovative, homegrown solutions to their unique challenges. In doing so, they empower their communities. Community development organizations not only listen to their community, but work directly with their neighbors to respond to these pressing problems. Working collectively and inclusively to solve problems results in diverse and truly innovative solutions.

The Empowering Communities program will encourage groups to test and pilot innovative, community-driven solutions to some of their neighborhood’s most pressing problems. This inaugural cohort of the program will provide implementation grants to OCDCA members to test innovative solutions to pressing community challenges related to the social determinants of health. While testing their solution, they will receive technical assistance from OCDCA and undergo an outside evaluation.

We are so excited to work with the CareSource Foundation and see what projects will come from this work.

Since 2006, the CareSource Foundation has awarded almost 1,200 grants to nonprofits who are working to eliminate poverty, provide much-needed services to low-and moderate-income families, encourage healthy communities, develop innovative approaches to address critical health issues and enhance the lives of a diverse array of children, adults and families.

Empowering Communities will begin in the first part of 2018, and we are more than excited for our new relationship and partnership with the CareSource Foundation to bring this program to realization in Ohio. Thank you, CareSource Foundation! 


Action needed on tax reform legislation

Dear advocate:

Please take a moment to read and act on the message below from Hal Keller and our friends at the Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing. It’s critically important to preserve private activity bonds; exempt housing tax credits from BEAT to encourage affected institutions to invest in America; keep LIHTC basis boost at 30%; and keep the New Markets Tax Credit and Historic Tax Credit.

Thank you for your advocacy!

Nate Coffman
Executive Director
Ohio CDC Association


As you know, with the passage of the Senate tax reform bill, the next step is for Senate and House Republicans to reconcile differences between their bills. As the Senate and House convene the conference committee to craft a single tax reform bill, it is important that our industry weigh in on these issues. The future of affordable housing and community economic development is at serious risk of devastating cutbacks. Given there might very well be a need to find revenue to pay for measures that will lead to an agreement, we cannot assume the Senate provisions related to private activity bonds and other credits will automatically be retained.

The document linked below explains and addresses our concerns. We need to weigh in with Republican Senators and Representatives and ask them to relay to the conferees the impact these provisions will have on affordable housing production. Names and contact information for the legislators and their tax staff are also linked below for your convenience.

The tax reform framework laid out by Republican leadership in September specifically called out the LIHTC as economically important to the American economy. Yet the pending bills repudiate that commitment. The conferees need to understand that these provisions will negatively affect the economy, job creation and affordable housing production.

Please let me know if you have any questions and thank you. Time is of the essence.

Thank you,
Hal Keller
Oho Capital Corporation for Housing

H.R. 1 Impact on Community Economic Development

Ohio Congressional Delegation


RFP Open: 2018 AmeriCorps VISTA Sub-Sites

OCDCA welcomes current, good standing members to submit an application to become a sub-site to the OCDCA VISTA Project to begin summer 2018.

Funding for the OCDCA VISTA Project is provided by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), US Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI), and the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA) through the Ohio Housing Trust Fund (OHTF). Limited slots are available; therefore, this is a competitive process and some slots will be reserved for housing-only and rural-only initiatives.

This will be your only opportunity in 2018 to apply for OCDCA VISTA support.

If your organization is interested in becoming a sub-site of the OCDCA VISTA Project, please complete the RFP by 5 PM January 19, 2017.

For questions or technical assistance, please contact Melissa Miller at mmiller AT or by phone at 614-461-6392 ext. 209.

Need TA on the Application?

The “Is AmeriCorps VISTA Right for Your Organization?” webinar on December 13th will focus on AmeriCorps VISTA history and mission; the Ohio CDC Association’s AmeriCorps VISTA program goals; requirements of Ohio CDC Association AmeriCorps VISTAs sub-sites; and how to become a Ohio CDC Association AmeriCorps VISTA sub-site.

The “AmeriCorps VISTA RFP TA” webinar on January 16th will go through common errors in applications and what makes a great application. This is a great time to get all your RFP questions answered.


What’s happening? Tax cuts

A brief sample of our November 2017 newsletter: What’s Happening in Ohio Community Development?

TAKE ACTION: Tax Bills Batter Opportunity and Affordable Housing

The so-called “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” will decrease affordable housing, decrease jobs, decrease economic opportunity in a multitude of ways (healthcare, education), increase taxes on tens of millions of low-to-moderate income households, widen already deep income/wealth inequality, increase our national debt that will squeeze future domestic spending, and will redistribute wealth (upward) from average Americans to corporations and the affluent.

Although the Senate budget version (expected to be voted on in the coming hours) is not as harmful for housing as the House proposal, both would irreparably impact low-to-moderate-income communities across Ohio by decreasing thousands of affordable units and costing thousands of jobs through impacts to private activity bonds (Housing Bonds), Low-Income Housing, Historic, and New Markets Tax Credits.

By 2027, people making $40,000 to $50,000 would pay a combined $5.3 billion more in taxes, while the group earning $1 million or more would get a $5.8 billion cut, according to the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office. Out of 42 top economists, only 1 believes the GOP tax bills would help the economy. “Aside from the redistribution of wealth (upward), hard to see this changing much,” wrote Richard Thaler, who just won the Nobel Prize in economics.

It’s important to make your voice heard and continue to call your Congresspeople.

Please tell them to oppose tax bills under consideration because the proposals will broadly burden low-to-moderate-income families and that specifically it’s important to protect and expand tax provisions that support affordable housing and community development namely private activity bonds (Housing Bonds), Low-Income Housing, Historic, and New Markets Tax Credits.

Contact Senator Rob Portman
Contact Senator Sherrod Brown
Contact your U.S. House Representative

Regardless of the final result, it’s critically important to continue to not only educate members of Congress but to educate family, friends, and co-workers on the factual real-world impacts of these measures. Thank you for your advocacy!

Read the whole newsletter or subscribe!


Yardwork volunteers provide valuable help to seniors

Jim Weiker of The Columbus Dispatch:

Photo by krosseel at

Yardwork doesn’t come as easily as it once did for Donda Stevenson. Two knee surgeries and consistent back pain make it hard for the 71-year-old Hilltop resident to get around.

So Stevenson was glad to welcome a crew from the nonprofit agency Homes on the Hill to rake, trim, weed and clean the gutters at her home.

“When I moved here in 1995, I did all this work,” Stevenson said as she watched volunteers tidy her lawn recently. “But there’s no way in the world I could have done this now.”

Homes on the Hill is among a handful of central Ohio organizations that help seniors and the disabled keep their yards looking good when the leaves start falling.

Read the whole story about this important work that at least two Central Ohio OCDCA members engage in – Homes on the Hill and Rebuilding Together Central Ohio.


Take Action – Tax Cuts Hurt Communities & Diminish Affordable Housing

It’s been a dizzying few weeks watching the House and Senate proposals to overhaul our country’s multi-trillion dollar tax system. It’s difficult for any citizen, no matter how informed, to follow the differing House and Senate proposals that are moving at such a rapid pace.

Two things are absolutely certain – both proposals will further shift our country’s tax burden away from corporations and the affluent to working families and greatly diminish affordable housing.

In the 1960s, the ratio of federal collections between individual and corporate income taxes was about 2 to 1. Since the Great Recession, this ratio has approximated 5 to 1. This is all being pushed in an era of ever-widening income inequality that will also lead to a significant increase in budget deficits that will set the stage for additional budget cuts and austerity.

Although the Senate budget version is not as harmful for housing as the House proposal, both would irreparably impact low-to-moderate-income communities across Ohio by decreasing thousands of affordable units and costing thousands of jobs through impacts to private activity bonds, Low-Income Housing, Historic, and New Markets Tax Credits.

Last week, COHHIO and our Executive Director, Nate Coffman, were in D.C. advocating against these proposals, and it was clear that Congressional offices are getting oppositional calls but more are needed.

It’s important to make your voice heard and continue to call your Congresspeople.

Please tell them to oppose tax bills under consideration because the proposals will broadly burden low-to-moderate-income households and that specifically it’s important to protect and expand tax provisions that support affordable housing and community development such as private activity bonds, Low-Income Housing, Historic, and New Markets Tax Credits.

Contact Senator Rob Portman.
Contact Senator Sherrod Brown
Contact your U.S. House Representative

Also, join a national Twitterstorm on Tuesday, November 28 from 2:00pm to 3:00pm to urge senators to vote “no” on this irresponsible and unacceptable tax bill. #CutsHurt #AffordableHousing

Thank you for your advocacy and have a happy Thanksgiving!


Former Walnut Hills Kroger slated for redevelopment

Kristen Swilley of WCPO Cincinnati:

The former Walnut Hills Kroger has sat empty on East McMillan Street since March, presiding somewhat grimly over a neighborhood that has poured millions into an ongoing attempt at revitalization.

Although the grocery giant cited decades of consistent underperformance in its decision to close the store, its sudden absence meant “many of our most vulnerable residents now have limited access to quality food options,” Kevin Wright of the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation said in December 2016.

Kroger suggested former Walnut Hills customers simply patronize its new University Plaza location, but for low-income Cincinnatians with little access to reliable transportation, the milelong trip sometimes proved a hard-to-surmount barrier.

“I’m bike-dependent, or I walk most places I go,” resident Sue Plummer said. “(My neighbors) go without fresh fruits and vegetables. They go without reasonable price on just basic items, and it’s frustrating.”

Relief is coming, Wright announced Monday. The Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation plans to buy the vacant property and convert it to a mixed-use residential-retail hybrid, placing retail spaces below apartments, for around $50 million in total development costs.

Read the whole story here.