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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.

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Walnut Hills begins renovations on old Paramount Theater

Courtis Fuller of WLWT5:

A major phase of a multimillion dollar community redevelopment project was launched Thursday in the Walnut Hills neighborhood.

The excitement surrounds the extensive renovation of an iconic and historic building in the heart of Walnut Hills.

“When it is vacant and blighted, they think Walnut Hills is vacant and blighted, so to bring it back to life is very symbolic and very important for the rebirth of Walnut Hills,” Kevin Wright said.

Wright is with the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation. He said the project could serve as a template for other development around the city of Cincinnati.

“Everybody knows Walnut Hills because everybody drives through it and I think everybody thinks about this building as representative of Walnut Hills,” Wright said.

The building is the old Paramount Theater.

Get the whole story here!

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NECIC releases new goals for North End

Emily Mills of Mansfield News Journal: 

The North End Community Improvement Collaborative plans to update its goals for the North End to improve the neighborhood and create new opportunities.

NECIC representatives shared the new plan in the Blust Avenue Teaching Garden on Wednesday.

Volunteers working on the Blust Avenue Teaching Garden.

“Rather than it being a transportation plan or a law enforcement plan or a housing plan, this plan is from the standpoint of a resident,” said NECIC executive director Deanna West-Torrence. “It really brings together all of those things.”

The 157-page plan updates the organization’s previous 80-page plan, released in 2010 and adopted by Mansfield City Council in 2011, to see what changed and what didn’t over the last few years.

Starting in 2015, more than 350 people were surveyed to find out what they wanted to see in the North End, the area roughly north of Park Avenue between Trimble Road and North Main Street.

The new plan includes a community economic development plan with sections on land use, housing economic development, education, public infrastructure/transit, community spaces and health and safety.

The sections are the same as the old plan, save for health and safety.

“That was really driven by residents who told us the number-one concern right now was a lot of violence,” West-Torrence said.

The new section focuses on youth violence in the community, something the Mansfield Community Against Violence, or M-CAV, is trying to combat through mentorship, said NECIC community development manager Tony Chinni.

“They need mentorship,” Chinni said. “Somebody that cares about them, somebody, you know, that’s in their corner.”

One of the most significant recommendations in the 2010 plan, which remains in the new plan, was decreasing blight in the North End, something most residents requested.

Since 2009, more than 250 properties have been demolished in the North End.

Chinni said he was surprised to learn many residents are now upset so many homes are being demolished.

“It’s like you’re taking something and not putting something back,” he said. “We were just so happy to get this stuff torn down, sometimes I think you forget about the people that are living right there in the neighborhood.”

Read the full story here!

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How a risk-averse hospital and a risk-taking CDC built a functional partnership

Miriam Axel-Lute and Lilliam M. Ortiz of Shelterforce:

“Hospitals across the country have been taking steps to work with community-based organizations to address a major cause of poor health in neighborhoods:  substandard housing. Shelterforce recently chatted with Angela Mingo, community relations director of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and the Rev. John Edgar, the executive director of the faith-based CDC called Community Development for All People, to learn more about their partnership, how it came to be, and to find out how others can form similar partnerships to help residents in their respective communities.”

Read the whole interview that highlights a great partnership between an OCDCA member and its partner.

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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.

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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.

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More housing coming to Findlay Market area

From Chris Wetterich of Cincinnati Business Courier: 

“New low-income housing is coming to an area near Findlay Market with Over-the-Rhine Community Housing, a developer attempting to ensure a mix of incomes remains in the neighborhood, hoping to acquire other property near the iconic site in the future.

The Cincinnati Planning Commission approved the sale of 1630 Pleasant St., a vacant building one block from the market with six efficiency apartments, to OTRCH on Friday for $1. It is one of the properties owned by the city that the Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. is charged with unloading to capable developers.

The building will be part of the scattered-site Carrie’s Place development, a group of 43 units including 36 existing units in 10 buildings along East Clifton Avenue five blocks and up the hill slightly from the market. The Clifton Avenue residents will be temporarily moved while they are rehabilitated. Those units have one- and two-bedroom apartments.

The Pleasant Street property will be turned into three, three-bedroom units with the aim of housing families. OTRCH is working with Model Group on the project, said the group’s executive director, Mary Burke Rivers.

“We know there’s a need for family units for the folks who are coming out of shelters. They have a real challenge for finding quality affordable housing. 1630 Pleasant St. has a lot of potential,” Rivers said. “We’re excited about getting families in there. It’s been in the city’s inventory for a while.””

Read the whole article here.

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In Youngstown: Remembering MLK, volunteers put message of community to action

By Gerry Ricciutti of WKBN 27:

“Around the Mahoning Valley, volunteers put Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s message of peace and community to good use with a series of community service projects.

…Volunteers with the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC) boarded up vacant houses and cleaned up yards and streets in the Wick Park and Crandall Park neighborhoods.

“For the neighborhoods, it gets rid of trash. The people living next door, the neighbors who have to live with the trash every day… it improves their quality of life,” said YNDC volunteer Gia Cappabianca.

By noon, the YNDC group had already filled 200 bags of trash.”

Founded in 2009, YNDC is a member of the Ohio CDC Association.

Watch the full video here. 

A picture from YNDC of a previous service day’s volunteer power.

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OTR developers push $128M affordable housing plan

From Bowdeya Tweh from the Cincinnati Enquirer:

“Familiar names in Over-the-Rhine’s real estate market could help chart a new course for 240 low-income apartments in the neighborhood.

The Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC) and Walnut Hills-based Model Group want to buy the Jan and Senate Apartments and transfer 101 federal housing subsidy contracts to other low-income housing managers. With the help of the Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio, residents are being relocated from those properties.

Also, the developers are working to close a purchase of 18 buildings that hold 140 apartments in Over-the-Rhine and Pendleton from Denver-based Mercy Housing. 3CDC wants to upgrade the properties and keep half of them affordable for families at 60 percent of the area median income. The other half of units would be converted to market-rate; commercial spaces would also be upgraded. Model has already started managing Mercy Housing’s properties.

“There is broad consensus that as housing prices rise in the neighborhood, it will be important to deliberately incorporate high-quality affordable housing in future development phases that both protects a diverse community base, which makes OTR special, and provides for critical workforce housing to support Cincinnati’s growing economy,” according to a development plan summary provided to The Enquirer.

The Jan, Senate and Mercy Housing properties are part of a $128 million plan that involves affordable housing upgrades, developing more affordable housing and making some housing developments mixed-income. 3CDC and Model started the effort more than two years ago and the organizations have since worked with the Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio, Over-the-Rhine Community Housing, Community Builders, McCormack Baron Salazar and Cornerstone Corp. for Shared Equity on various elements of the plan.”

Read the complete article here.

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TNP lands federal grant of $225,000 for project, jobs

From Raymond L. Smith via the Tribune Chronicle:

“WARREN — A $225,000 grant will be used to renovate a Mahoning Avenue residence and carriage house that eventually will house offices for Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership and serve as a training center for new employees of the nonprofit.

The funding will help create at least eight full-time positions at TNP under a program called Building a Better Warren, and TNP will hire low-income individuals to fill a majority of the positions.

“Those hired will be taught skills to work in modules that include reconstruction and salvaging, home rehabilitation, landscape installation and landscape maintenance,” Matt Martin, executive director of TNP, said. “This is an opportunity to put low-income residents to work.”

TNP will leverage some of its existing  demolition dollars with its work with the Trumbull County Land Reutilization Corp. to focus rehabilitation work on properties in the corporation’s current inventory.

“This program is all about putting our residents to work in quality, year-round jobs revitalizing our neighborhoods,” Martin said. “We have merged the need for blight remediation with the need for meaningful workforce development, and we have leveraged multiple resources and partnerships to create this opportunity. This is an exciting program for our community.”

Approximately $200,000 of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant will be used for the renovation project at 736 Mahoning Ave. About $25,000 will be used to purchase equipment. The federal dollars are being provided through the HHS Community Economic Development grant program.

“None of this money will be used to pay salaries or benefits,” Martin said. “We will  train people to salvage materials from properties scheduled to be demolished, as well as doing the landscaping and maintenance of properties that already have  been demolished.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, called the HHS award a “win” for Trumbull County.

“By creating opportunities for residents to improve their own community, TNP is living up to its mission to empower citizens and serve every neighborhood,” Brown said.

Martin said he hopes to complete the renovation project sometime in 2017.  Once completed, the carriage house will be used for training  and storage.

Building a Better Warren already has two employees. It expects to build up to eight during the five-year grant program.

The HHS Community Economic Development federal grant program works to help low-income individuals and families become self-sufficient through employment and business development opportunities.”

Read the complete article here.