South Side housing complex to include job training

By Mark Ferenchik from The Columbus Dispatch:

“In the past few years, Nationwide Children’s Hospital has hired 325 employees from the South Side neighborhood it calls home.

It may be hiring more. The hospital plans to open a job-training program at a new $12 million low- and moderate-income housing complex rising on the South Side less than a mile from the hospital.

The 58-unit Residences at Career Gateway, at 755 E. Whittier St., west of Heyl Avenue, will provide workforce training an

d other services to help residents gain and keep jobs. It is being built on the site of the former Heyl Elementary School.

Some of the programs will help to train future workers at the hospital, including those in environmental services and nutrition services, as well as patient-care assistance and information technology, said Elisabeth Baldock, the hospital’s chief human-resources officer.

Baldock was one of several city, neighborhood and business leaders on hand at the launch of the project Friday. Construction of the 14 town homes and 44 apartments started a couple of months ago and should be finished next summer.

The NRP Group, a Cleveland for-profit developer, and Community Development for All People partnered on the project, which was primarily financed with $1 million in tax credits annually for 10 years, plus a $1.5 million loan from the Affordable Housing Trust for Columbus and Franklin County.

The city invested $250,000 in the project, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. provided a $75,000 grant.

The Rev. John Edgar, executive director of Community Development for All People, said the job-training aspect — for complex residents as well as others — makes the project unique.

“All of these opportunities are open to people who live in the community,” Edgar said. “It’s not just a low-income tax credit project.”

Aaron Pechota, NRP’s senior vice president, said, “We feel that this is a model that can be replicated in Ohio and across the country.”

Doug Garver, the executive director of the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, said the concept stood out in the competitive tax-credit arena.

The monthly rents run from $620 to $650 for one- and two-bedroom units, and $750 for three-bedroom units. There are income restrictions: $29,280 for one person and $41,775 for a four-member family.

Ken Williams, a Ganthers Place neighborhood leader, said the project helps to jump-start the community. Curtis Davis, the vice president of the Columbus South Side Area Commission, said, “It gives people a hope, a path to the middle class.”

Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther talked about the investment in the neighborhood. Dr. Steve Allen, the hospital’s CEO, mentioned the 325 jobs the hospital has provided for neighborhood residents, as well as the hospital’s Healthy Neighborhoods Healthy Families initiative, through which $18 million has gone toward neighborhood housing since its inception in 2008.”

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