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Sign here for increased community development and housing resources

We all know that there is tremendous unmet need in the state for community development funding and for housing that low-income people can afford.

However, there is good news: Congress’s recent bipartisan budget agreement is the first opportunity in many years to get increased federal funding for community development and affordable housing.

President Trump’s new budget is a bad start, but it’s just symbolic. The fact is, Congress just lifted austere spending caps that have starved HUD programs for years.

The bill adds $131 billion in domestic non-defense spending for the next two fiscal years, and now they need to figure out how to spend it.

While Trump’s budget would add only $2 billion of that new money to HUD (for an overall 14% cut), we know that increased funding for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), HOME Investments Partnership program (HOME), rental assistance, and the National Housing Trust Fund would go a long way to alleviating resource scarcity and the affordability crisis.

But we need to let our members of Congress know these programs really work.

The first step is to add your organization to this sign-on letter asking Ohio’s congressional delegation to support increased funding for HUD programs.

After you sign the letter, we’ll get in touch when the time comes to call your members of Congress to let them know how important these federal community development and housing programs are to their constituents.

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Opportunity zone census tract submission – due next week

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act created a new class of community investment vehicles through the Opportunity Zones Program, which aims to drive long-term capital into distressed communities by providing tax benefits on investments in Opportunity Funds (O Funds), which allow investors to pool and deploy their resources in low-income census tracts.

The state will be submitting up to 25% of Ohio’s low-income census tracts for program inclusion in the coming weeks. Please find below a notice from the Ohio Developments Services Agency (ODSA) Assistant Director Matt Peters on how to request your census tracts to be included.

In the recently passed federal tax bill, states have been asked to identify census tracts that may been from a new federal tax incentive program known as Opportunity Zones. The state of Ohio can nominate up to 319 qualified low-income census tracts.

States nominate census tracts to the U.S. Treasury, which will make the final determination. We have set up a page for online submission of census tracts to be considered for recommendation to the U.S. Treasury. The State of Ohio will accept submissions through 4pm on Friday, March 2, 2018.

Below is the link to both the submission site as well as a map of census tracts identified by the state that would qualify for nomination. Please provide your contact information and identify the census tract by number, as well as a brief narrative about economic activity; current or committed, in the tract. If you submit more than one tract, please provide information for each individual tract. If you submit more than one tract, you will be asked to prioritize your nominations.

To submit census tracts.

To view our map.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Matt Peters
Assistant Director
Director’s Office
614.466.8737

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Do you need funding support for your programs?

Are you looking for ways to bolster your existing programs or find funding for new ones?

There are many ways Ohio CDC Association may be able to help. Do you know them all?


Empowering Communities – Innovation Funding to Combat the Social Determinants of Health
In late February 2018, OCDCA and the CareSource Foundation will release the Empowering Communities RFP. Empowering Communities is a project that provides a mechanism for funding new and innovative solutions to unique community challenges that involve the social determinants of health. This innovation funding is available to OCDCA members. Look for the RFP release in just a few weeks.

Social Enterprise Incubation Program
The Social Enterprise Incubation Program (SEIP) is an intensive four phase program consisting of rigorous training and tailored technical assistance for OCDCA members while they create their own social enterprise. This program culminates in a structured “shark tank” where the participating CDCs gain access to startup capital. More information about this technical assistance and funding program will be available in the coming months.

AmeriCorps VISTA
The Ohio CDC Association VISTA Project, created in 1995 as a partnership between the Ohio CDC Association and the Corporation for National and Community Service, places VISTA Members every June or July at OCDCA member organizations throughout the state. VISTA Members are full-time volunteers that serve at a non-profit organization and focus their efforts on building organizational, administrative, and financial capacity for organizations that fight illiteracy, improve health services, foster economic development, strengthen community groups, and otherwise assist low-income communities. OCDCA members pay only $1,600 broken into quarterly installments for this full-time AmeriCorps member. Additionally, OCDCA operates a VISTA Summer Associate program. Both RFPs for 2018 have passed, but will open again in December 2018.

Ohio Microbusiness Development Program
The purpose of the Ohio Microbusiness Development Program is to provide funding for OCDCA members to further develop a local delivery system that encourages microbusiness development, provides low- and moderate-income households with access to capital for business development and self-employment, and creates and retains long-term jobs in the private sector. The RFP for this program opens in the fall.

Funding Opps
Each month, OCDCA members receive a lengthy newsletter called Funding Opps, which lists countless funding opportunities for Ohio community development organizations, separated into the buckets of affordable housing; food access; community engagement; community economic development; and financial empowerment.


All of these programs are available on a competitive basis to OCDCA members. Joining is simple and can happen at any time. All new member dues are 50% off for the first year – no matter when they join, just use code NM2018.

For more information about membership, please contact Melissa Miller, Associate Director, at mmiller@ohiocdc.org or (614) 461-6392 ext. 209.

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CDC Impact: Food Access

Over the last few years, Ohio CDC Association (OCDCA) has been working hard to quantify the impact of CDCs throughout Ohio. We’ve been collecting and analyzing data from our member organizations and are excited to share our findings – especially in digestible bits.

We are pleased to state that, each year, over one million people benefit from the work of Ohio’s CDCs.

In this final week looking at our five community development “buckets,” we discuss food access. A little over two-thirds of OCDCA members offer food access programs.

According to a 2015-released U.S. Department of Agriculture report, 16.9 percent of Ohio households have struggled with food insecurity, which is well above the national average of 5.6, and sixth worst in the nation. Additionally, this same report indicates that 7.5 percent of Ohioans have struggled with very low food security, which is the third worst in the nation. Likewise, the Ohio State University Food Innovation Center found that 17.3 percent of Ohio’s population is food insecure.

Did you know that, in 2016, Ohio CDCs:

  • Connected over 131,000 Ohioans to CDC food programs, including farmer’s markets, healthy food initiatives, and community gardening;
  • Invested more than $2,600,000 in food access programs to ensure low-income communities gain access to fresh and healthy foods;
  • Supported nearly 325 community gardens and 60 farmer’s markets.

Ohio CDC Association members accomplish these things using many strategies. One long-standing strategy is in Appalachia.

Southeast Ohio faces many challenges with getting fresh, healthy food to its residents. Despite the relative abundance of farmland, acquiring fresh fruit and vegetables is difficult because of the region’s remoteness from urban centers where most produce is sent. Distribution is not guaranteed to be profitable because of lower populations, so how does one attract a distribution network to the area?

In the early 2000s, an auction market formed in Southeast Ohio to allow the local Mennonite community a convenient outlet to sell their produce production. The auction format has little overhead compared to a more typical market, and the spectacle of the event involves more of the surrounding communities. An OCDCA member now operates this food hub which simultaneously combats food access issues in southeast Ohio and strengthens the community ties.

From produce auctions to corner stores and vacant lots converted to gardens, Ohio CDCs are tackling food insecurity head-on. We are so proud and grateful for all of their tireless work!

 

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Nate Coffman on In Focus with Mike Kallmeyer

Yesterday, our executive director, Nate Coffman was on In Focus with Mike Kallmeyer to talk about Ohioans for Payday Loan Reform and the statewide citizens initiative to get a ballot measure in November combating predatory lending in Ohio. 

Payday loans in Ohio are the most expensive in the nation, with an astounding typical annual percentage rate (APR) of 591%.

Ten years ago, Ohioans voted by a nearly 2:1 margin to implement reasonable reform to the payday lending industry, but that language had a loophole, which allowed the predatory lending industry to go unchecked in Ohio.

On a federal level, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau is continuing to drop cases regarding outrageous practices of payday lenders. That is why we need real reform now.

Watch the nearly eight minute video.

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Check out Nate Coffman on The State of Ohio

Check out today’s episode of The State of Ohio with Karen Kasler as they discuss payday lending reform in Ohio. Our own Nate Coffman talks about the statewide citizens initiative alongside Rep. Kyle Koehler (R – Springfield), who was the primary sponsor on the bipartisan HB123 which also seeks to address the unchecked power of predatory lending in Ohio.

Payday loans in Ohio are the most expensive in the nation, with an astounding typical annual percentage rate (APR) of 591%. That is why we need real reform now.

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Call for nominations! HUD’s fourth annual Secretary’s Awards for Healthy Homes

HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, in partnership with the National Environmental Health Association, offers this call for nominations for excellence in four categories:

1. Public Housing/Multifamily Housing;

2. Policy and Education Innovation;

3. Cross-Program Coordination,

4. Research.

Nominations accepted online until Feb. 28.

More information about submission requirements.

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CDC Impact: Financial Empowerment

Over the last few years, Ohio CDC Association (OCDCA) has been working hard to quantify the impact of CDCs throughout Ohio. We’ve been collecting and analyzing data from our member organizations and are excited to share our findings – especially in digestible bits.

We are pleased to state that, each year, over one million people benefit from the work of Ohio’s CDCs.

This week, we take a look at financial empowerment. Approximately 50% of Ohio CDC Association members offer a financial empowerment program. Through financial empowerment initiatives, CDCs provide education and asset building tools so low and moderate income families can become financially independent, improve credit, reduce debt and foreclosure risk, and contribute to community stability.

Did you know that, in 2016, Ohio CDCs:

  • Invested nearly $6,500,000 in financial empowerment programs to leverage $65,000,000  in assets for low-income Ohioans;
  • Conducted financial empowerment programs which improved the financial well-being of 1 out of every 2 participants;
  • Improved the financial well-being of nearly 35,000 Ohioans.

The many organizations that perform this work do so in a myriad ways.

One way is through the OCDCA Assets Ohio Individual Development Account (IDA) Program. Operated by OCDCA since 1999, IDAs are matched savings accounts for low-to-moderate income individuals to save for a first time home purchase, small business venture, or post-secondary education. The participant savers contribute earned income and receive up to an 8:1 match for their desired asset. While saving, they undergo financial education and asset specific education.

One central Ohio OCDCA member helped Deb in 2016. Deb has two sons and six grandchildren. She is a long-time dedicated Goodwill employee and was approved for a Habitat for Humanity home in 2015. After about six months in the IDA program, Deb saved enough money to reach her goal, and was ready for a down payment in March 2016.

Stories like Deb’s are sprinkled throughout the state thanks in part to the work of Ohio CDCs. Because of the work and programs of CDCs, many individuals and families are finding empowerment and economic prosperity that continues to be a challenge for many Americans.

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What’s happening? Federal updates & new staff

A brief sample of our January 2018 newsletter: What’s Happening in Ohio Community Development?

Welcome, Alana!
OCDCA is pleased to welcome Alana Perez to the staff! Alana joined our office on January 16th and is our new AmeriCorps VISTA Program Manager, making her the new face and day-to-day overseer of the OCDCA AmeriCorps VISTA Project.

She comes to us after serving as an AmeriCorps State Member with the American Red Cross in her hometown of Los Angeles. Prior to that, she graduated from Denison University with a Bachelor’s in Political Science. We’re excited to have her here, and members shouldn’t be afraid to reach out on all things VISTA.

Administration Takes Aim at CRA – Sign on Letter
According to Forbes, the Trump Administration is taking aim at changing the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). The rumored changes are at best a mixed bag. The Wall Street Journal expects the most dramatic overhaul to CRA in the last 20 years. Read the letter that NCRC will send to the Treasury detailing our recommendations for enhancing the ability of CRA to direct banks to address the credit and capital needs of underserved communities. You can also read a 2-page summary of the letter. You can sign on and be a part of this letter by using this link to complete the sign on form.

Read the whole newsletter or subscribe!

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A new revitalization model: demand creation

Guest article from Revitalization News:

“When you chat with your grandmother about urban revitalization, the words that you use and the images she has in her head are likely focused on brick, stone, or clapboard buildings; on tree-lined, brick-paved streets; or on walkable main streets teeming with local retailers, hung shingles, and small offices or apartments above.

It is all about saving places. And we do it for a host of good reasons, be they economic, emotional, or to take advantage of a particular underserved market that wants to move in, not out to the hinterland exurbs.

The strategies we have relied upon mirror those images and words that we use. We focus, and understandably so, on the buildings, streets, and public spaces that make up the neighborhoods we want to save. We wrap policies around these places like bubble wrap, hoping to stem the dis- or mal-investment that has plagued them for a half century.

Design codes and zoning overlays institutionalize the wisdom of previous eras that we seem to be losing, the intuition that allowed us to build great places for millennia. To bridge the gap between what a landowner can invest in a building and what she can reasonably expect in return through rents, we have created a competitive set of tax credits that can be swapped for cash to pour into repointing the brick, popping in new windows, restoring the tin ceiling, and patching the roof.

When successful, we do save the place. Blood, sweat, tears and years go into stabilizing and restoring the bricks and mortar. Retailers open up shop, people move back in, and selfies are taken with your restored neighborhood serving as the memorable backdrop.

But saving that street or adopting that overlay district does not automatically save the neighborhood and, even if it does, it does not necessarily jump the tracks to the next neighborhood even if it exhibits some of the same great buildings and streets that dot your newly revitalized district. The movement does not scale on its own. What is more, even as we have restored investment in the place, real and often valid concerns about how we are restoring investment in the people that for generations stuck it out in the that place grow.

Enter gentrification and displacement.

And when we ignore the movement’s ability to scale and resist the difficult conversations about racial, cultural, and economic inclusion, we expose the preservation movement’s broad side to criticisms about Disneyification and loss of authenticity while isolating the pursuit of revitalization to a narrowing class of advocates that have the resources to navigate the bureaucracy, planning, lending, and trade skills necessary to bring a place back from the brink. This threatens to slow and narrow the movement right when we need to accelerate and broaden it the most.

These shortcomings are due, in large part, to how we go about revitalizing places. In other words: the supply-only approach of property acquisition, tax credits, building stabilization and restoration, and protection policies limit the risks of doing it all. And its importance cannot be underestimated. But while doing all of that hard work with our right hands, it is critical that we do something just as important with our left.

That something is a strategy we’ve come to call Demand Discovery where, through targeted activation of overlooked spaces, programming, storytelling, and ongoing tweaking, we figure out where, how, who, and what to focus on while removing the market’s mental obstacles preventing it from coming to the place you are trying to save.

A central observation of demand discovery is that, over time, we have value engineered out of the building process two key steps. We are likely to still engage in some form of planning (be it in a church basement or in a boardroom) with the intended goal of sustained development and investment.

But the leap between the two is proving to be too vast. We are missing one step by which we test those planning ideas through quick, low-cost, low-risk activations of the idea. We miss another that makes permanent the early and most successful aspects of those activations through smart, small development of the amenities and other uses that virtually all plans wish to bring back to a place. This holds just as true for a coffee shop as it does for a walkable street and allows our bigger development to be more sophisticated, market-driven (ie smarter use of gap funding), and integrated into the fabric of a place.

It is not your grandma’s picture of revitalization but, in fact, more like how places grew when she was a little girl through small scale trial and error that incrementally evolves into an extraordinary place.”

Read the full piece here, which details work occurring in the Cincinnati member Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation.