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Advocates and congressional champions secure increased affordable housing funding for 2018

From the National Low Income Housing Coalition:

The final fiscal year (FY) 2018 spending bill – released yesterday, March 21, by Congressional leaders – includes a significant increase in funding for affordable housing and community development programs at HUD and USDA, along with an increase in Low Income Housing Tax Credits and an important reform to the tax program. This successful outcome is due to the hard work of advocates across the nation and strong Congressional champions, including Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) and Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and David Price (R-NC) – the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittees – as well as Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and others.

The bill provides HUD programs with $4.6 billion in additional funding overall compared to FY17, or more than $12 billion above the president’s FY18 request. With a 10% one-year increase to HUD, many programs were funded at levels significantly above what was proposed in either the House or Senate draft bills. The spending bill renews all Housing Choice Vouchers and provides new vouchers to veterans and people with disabilities, allocates nearly $1 billion in additional funding to repair and operate public housing, and boosts funding for the HOME Investment Partnerships program (HOME) to the highest level in seven years. Moreover, the final bill includes none of rent increases proposed by the president in his budget request. See NLIHC’s updated budget chart for more details.

The final FY18 spending bill is a clear repudiation of the president’s budget request, which would have cut funding for HUD by nearly 15%, or $7.4 billion, compared to FY17 levels, provided the HUD secretary with the authority to increase the financial burden on current and future tenants, eliminated 250,000 Housing Choice Vouchers, and slashed or zeroed out funding for public housing, the national Housing Trust Fund, HOME, and Community Development Block Grants.

The House is expected to vote on the bill as soon as today, March 22, followed by the Senate soon thereafter. Congress must enact the spending bill before the current stop-gap spending measure expires on Friday, March 23. Congressional leaders could turn to a short, day-long continuing resolution to provide enough time to overcome procedural hurdles. Once the bill is enacted, NLIHC and our partners in the Campaign for Housing and Community Development will turn our full attention to defeating the president’s FY19 budget request, securing the highest allocation possible for affordable housing and community development programs, and defeating harmful benefit cuts.

Read and learn more on the NLIHC’s website.


CDC Impact: Affordable Housing

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.

Did you know that, in 2016, Ohio CDCs:

  • Invested over $350 million in their communities and served more than 39,000 households through their affordable housing development, housing counseling, and home repair programs;
  • Developed or rehabilitated over 2,300 affordable housing units for low and moderate income families, senior citizens and veterans and;
  • Repaired or improved nearly 20,000 homes.

There are so many various ways in which this happens across the state.

For example, in 2016, a CDC near Cleveland coordinated 356 volunteers for 46 volunteer projects, hosted 23 housing educational workshops with 782 attendees, and engaged 526 people in some type of service provision including overseeing a bed bug issue intake program, home visits, or housing court advocacy.

Another CDC in Cincinnati provided 486 families energy education to learn how to reduce their usage and save money on their utility bills.

Affordable housing is a critical need in Ohio as well as the rest of the country. The work of Ohio CDCs is truly important in meeting this need.


Fix a house, learn job skills in this Middletown program

Ed Richter of The Journal-News:

Starting Feb. 12, the newest Build-Up Academy will start its next class to rehab a house in Middletown.

The Build-Up Academies is a program operated by the nonprofit Supports to Encourage Low-Income Families that provides job training for people looking to get into a construction trade by rehabbing or flipping property.

John Post, SELF’s housing coordinator, said the program is a natural outgrowth of the nonprofit’s other activities and programs, which include various volunteer work camps in the summer, and community blitzes throughout the year helping low-income people with home repairs and other maintenance issues.

Post said the Build-Up Academies, now in its third year, provides free construction skills training to classes of nine to 18 students, ages 18 to 40, who meet for nearly four hours a night, four nights a week for nine weeks on the project.

The students also receive construction technology or construction management certificate through an agreement with Cincinnati State. The program offers opportunities to network with local employers or apply for apprenticeships in the construction field upon graduation. In addition there are incentives, employment and life skills training, emergency supports and even steel-toed boots and a starter tool set upon graduation from the program.

“It’s been a great program for us,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of great success stories.”

Read the whole story here.


County gets $1.55 million housing grant from state

Daniel Carson of The News-Messenger:

“Sandusky County has received a $1.55 million community affordable housing grant that will help homeowners and rental property owners fix up dozens of homes in the county.

The county’s Community Housing Impact and Preservation Program grant is funded by the Ohio Housing Trust Fund, federal Community Development Block Grant and HOME programs, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency.

Sandusky County is one of 30 communities statewide to receive one of the grants.

County Administrator Theresa Garcia said WSOS is administering the community housing grant locally and has been doing so for at least a decade.

Garcia said the $1.55 million grant is for the next two years and is meant to assist residents with repairs that include installing new windows and other home upgrades.

She said WSOS takes and reviews applications for the grant funding and makes decisions on which homeowners will receive money for home repairs.

“They maintain the whole program,” Garcia said.

The Ohio Development Services Agency awarded the grant, which will be used to rehabilitate, repair and construct affordable housing for low-income Ohio residents as well as provide homeownership and rental assistance.”

Congratulations for the two year award, OCDCA member WSOS Community Action! This is a great acknowledgement of the benefit of OHTF, CDBG, and HOME.

Read the whole story here.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.