Fairmount, which had one of the largest concentrations of Section 8 housing in Cincinnati, was just awarded one of 13 grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The $200,000 Choice Neighborhoods Initiative grant was awarded to the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority (CHMA) to formulate a comprehensive plan, over two years, to transform Fairmount into a viable community. Out of 70 applicants nationwide, Fairmount was chosen, due in part to the current lack of resources in the community.
Without a grocery store or a school, an estimated 50 percent of residents living below the poverty level and a 70-acre vacant lot that used to house the public housing community English Woods, Fairmount is in dire need of revitalization.
Out of all recipients of the CNI grants, Fairmount is the only one to list a school as a partner in the planning process. The Ethel M. Taylor Elementary School, which is located outside the limits of Fairmount, only met one state requirement in the ‘09-‘10 school year. The school will be a main focus of the planning process to rejuvenate the community.
“The next two years will be spent making a plan to make this a vibrant community,” says Kelly Kramer, senior communications coordinator at CHMA. “It will have resources that will drastically improve the quality of life in the neighborhood.”
Housing, people and neighborhood are the three main focus areas that the CHMA will address over the next two years. Distressed and empty lots will be transformed in to mixed-income housing; families and residents will be supported to help increase education, employment and mobility, all with the end goal of creating a renewed neighborhood with well-functioning services.
The CNI is a national organization that chooses neighborhoods in the most need of the grants and first awards them with the planning grant, which Fairmount received. After the two years are up and the plan is formed, neighborhoods can apply for implementation grants.
“The hope is to put together such a good plan that it will move toward future funding,” Kramer says.
By Evan Wallis