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Walnut Hills reimagines future of food security in wake of Kroger departure

From Liz McEwan of Soapbox Cincinnati:

“On Dec. 2, Walnut Hills residents woke to the news that their neighborhood Kroger will close its doors for good in early March.

The announcement comes as a blow to longtime residents who, despite considerable economic growth in parts of Walnut Hills over the last decade, have seen neighborhood amenities disappear one after another. Now, with Kroger’s departure, one of their most basic needs — access to food — is being threatened.

The neighborhood Kroger store opened in 1983 and has been in limbo for years. Leaders have been proactively engaged in conversations over what to do if, or when, the store finally closed. Now, a date is set and residents must work together to find a viable and equitable solution to the crisis. Without a plan, food security will become one more thing that divides the neighborhood’s most disenfranchised residents from those with access to amenities beyond Walnut Hills.”

The story continues with talk of how OCDCA member, Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation is helping with this food access issue in an equitable and inclusive way.

To that end, WHRF employee Gary Dangel is tasked with engaging residents to answer one simple question: How do you want to get your groceries?

Read the full story here.


Present your successes on a national stage this spring

A lot great things are happening in Ohio and we’re eager to share the tremendous accomplishments of Ohio’s community development sector on the national stage. Join us for the largest gathering of community development professionals in the country at People & Places 2017.

Mark your calendars for May 31-June 2 in Arlington, Virginia (minutes from DC and Reagan National Airport), this peer-learning event will bring together approximately 800 community development placemakers, partners and supporters from across the country.

Call for Presenters

Do you have a passion about the work you do? Have you helped orchestrate a successful state or local policy campaign? Do you want to share your strategies and tactics with community development professionals from around the country? If so, the People & Places 2017 steering committee invites you to propose a session to present at the most diverse and inclusive community development event in the nation. Some travel assistance is available for selected presenters. To submit a proposal for a workshops, panel, roundtable discussion, or TED-style talk, respond to the Call for Presenters by Friday, February 24.

At this year’s conference, we want Ohio’s participation level to be prominent. Whether a presenter or participant, don’t miss this opportunity!

People & Places 2017 is hosted by five national networks to inspire each other, strengthen our skills, unite our networks, and raise our voices on behalf of the communities we serve. The hosts are:

  • National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations,
  • National Urban League,
  • National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders,
  • National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development,
  • Network for Developing Conscious Communities.

In Athens, Women’s Heart Health Power Lunch to inform participants about plant-based diets

To celebrate Heart Health Month this February, in Athen’s Ohio, at Ohio University, the Women’s Center, WellWorks and Live Healthy Appalachia are creating a plant-based diet themed lunch on Thursday, February 16. Live Healthy Appalachia is an OCDCA member.

By Emily Doll of The Post:

“Although technically a vegan lunch, Emily Dacquisto, program coordinator at the Women’s Center, said the focus of the lunch is not on the benefits of going vegan.

“The focus will really be on food that is completely all natural and plant based,” Dacquisto said.

Along with educating participants on plant-based living, the women from Live Healthy Appalachia will be speaking about the cost of their power bowls to show people eating healthy doesn’t always break the bank.

“The hope is to show people who attend that (it’s a myth) that eating a plant-based diet is more expensive,” Dacquisto said.

Sherri Oliver, the executive director at Live Healthy Appalachia, said the idea has been in the works since the end of last year, and everyone involved is excited to share their knowledge with the attendees.

“We just wanted to give people something healthy and easy to make (to eat),” she said. “We want to get people excited about healthy eating.””

Read more about the event in The Post. Register at Live Healthy Appalachia’s website.


New hope for historic Scofield Mansion restoration

By Karin Connelly Rice of Freshwater Cleveland:

“The 1898 dilapidated mansion of renowned Cleveland architect Levi Scofield is about to get a makeover and a new chance to become a crown jewel of the Buckeye Woodhill neighborhood, thanks to the valiant efforts of the Cleveland Restoration Society (CRS), Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, the Cuyahoga County Land Bank and a team of volunteers.

Scofield’s vacant historic home, tucked away at 2438 Mapleside Road, has fallen into disrepair over the past two decades.

“It’s in a forgotten corner of this neighborhood, in an area you wouldn’t normally go to,” says CRS president Kathleen Crowther. “It’s like a haunted house. But if it’s restored and sold, it could be a showcase for the city and could really turn this neighborhood around.”

That optimism is why the CRS formed a blue ribbon task force last year with the hope of saving and restoring the home. “This is a last-ditch effort on this property,” Crowther says, noting the structure has been flagged for potential demolition. “It’s completely open to the elements, kids can get in there. It’s horrible. It’s now or never.”

Read the entire article about this exciting, collaborative project that features at least two OCDCA members: Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and Cuyahoga County Land Bank.


Realtors’ donation helps Community Development 4 All People rehab homes

By Jim Weiker of The Columbus Dispatch:

Great news this past week from Columbus-based OCDCA member, Community Development 4 All People.

“The charity’s efforts to buy and renovate South Side eyesores received a boost Wednesday when the Columbus Realtors Foundation announced a $300,000 donation to the group, the largest donation in the Realtors’ history.

“This donation is allowing South Side Renaissance to go to another level of scale,” said John Edgar, executive director of Community Development for All People, who welcomed a string of politicians and others to the announcement.

South Side Renaissance bought and renovated 15 homes last year, most of them in the struggling Hungarian Village and Reeb-Hosack neighborhoods, which are both just south of Merion Village. The group plans to renovate 15 more homes each of the next three years, at an average cost of about $80,000 a home.

White’s new home, on Innis Avenue, was one of the agency’s biggest challenges, said Nathaniel Towns, owner of Reliable Remodeling & Home Design, which has renovated many homes for South Side Renaissance.”

Read the whole article here.


Health officials developing plan for community

By Jeff Gilliland of the Times Gazette, with a mention of some work an OCDCA member, Highland County Community Action Organization, is doing:

A year after completing a community health assessment the Highland County Health Department is exploring ways to address issues the assessment exposed. The next step is creating a Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) that seeks to improve the health and wellness of the individuals and families who live and work in Highland County.

A meeting for anyone interested will be held at 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 16 at the Highland County Health Department, 1487 N. High St., Suite 400, Hillsboro.

“The health department has worked hard to identify the greatest health issues facing Highland County. The CHIP process allows us to develop a community plan for addressing these problems. The more community input we have, the stronger these efforts to improve our health will be,” said Jared Warner, Highland County health commissioner.

Warner said that all health departments in Ohio are now required to be accredited, somewhat like a hospital or college. He said the first step of that process was creating the community health assessment, and now the CHIP is the next step.

At the community meeting, Warner said those in attendance will look over the health assessment report and try to identify the county’s biggest problems.

“We’ll try to determine which problems we can have an impact on and which ones we want to focus our efforts on,” Warner said.

The assessment completed last year was developed by a countywide coalition, led by Highland County Community Action and Ohio State University. A survey was completed by 433 county residents that provided information on economic data, lifestyle choices, health and wellness and mental health.

Read the entire article, including some of the highlights of the report, here.



RFP Open: VISTA Summer Associate

Jump-start your summer with a VISTA Associate

The AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate program is a 10 week initiative that offers organizations the opportunity to engage individuals in their community and get help enhancing existing programs.

The OCDCA AmeriCorps Summer VISTA RFP, which is separate from the year-long VISTA RFP, is now available.

More Details

Applications are due by February 21, 2017

Funding for the OCDCA VISTA Project is provided by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Limited slots are available; therefore, this is a competitive process.

This will be your only opportunity in 2017 to apply for OCDCA VISTA Summer support.

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


What’s happening? OHTF & federal budget

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

Congress and Trump Administration Begin FY 18 Budget Process
The Trump Administration is drafting a budget blueprint that is expected to be released in the next 45 days. This so-called “skinny budget” purportedly proposes to cut government spending by $10.5 trillion over ten years and outlines plans for shrinking the federal bureaucracy. These initial proposals closely match a Heritage Foundation blueprint published last year – The Blueprint for Reform – which also recommends eliminating most HUD programs, including the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, and transferring other programs to the states. In addition, the blueprint suggests transferring programs like homelessness assistance to the Department of Health and Human Services and proposes eliminating the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund from the Treasury Department. The Trump Administration is expected to release a full budget request by the end of April.

Read the rest of the newsletter, here!

Subscribe here.


From condemned to rehabbed: German Village home on market (on OCDCA member SELF)

By Wayne Baker of Hamilton Journal News:

Supports to Encourage Low-Income Families (SELF) has launched a pilot program designed to rehab houses that are on the verge of being torn down so they can be restored and sold to low-income families that might otherwise not have an opportunity to own a home.

The SELF Neighbors Who Care: Home Repair Renovation initiative program for home rehab just completed its first project in Hamilton at 426 N. 3rd St. in German Village, a property that was on the city’s condemned list. The home is now available for purchase for low-income buyers.

John Post, who runs Neighbors Who Care for SELF, walked the property with the Journal-News and said 200 volunteers gave 1,500 hours of their time in order to complete the rehab project.

“This house was built around 1910, and it needed a lot of work,” Post said. “We bought it a little over a year ago and really put an effort in to get this into great condition.”

This, he explained, was “your typical fixer-upper,” as the tour revealed that a two-bedroom, one-bath home had been transformed into a three-bedroom, two-bath beauty, with 10-foot ceilings, modern appliances, central air and a new roof. Many of the fixtures and appliances were either donated or were found in Middletown from homes that were being demolished.

“We did some foundation work, and you can see that we have a high-efficiency furnace and all updated electrical and plumbing work,” Post said, as he showed off the basement and bathroom in the house. “We updated everything.”

Rebecca Palen of SELF said the home rehab program’s first completed project is something that is positive for the community.

“We wanted to show the great things happening for low-income individuals and German Village,” she said. “This is an historic area, so there are a lot of permits and things needed when you complete something like this, but it was well worth it.”

Read the entire article here.