Cornerstone provides OTR residents with housing plus opportunity

Cornerstone Corporation for Shared Equity might provide individuals with safe, affordable housing, but it also gives them the opportunity to earn money back after five and 10 years of responsible renting.
“We’re really a social enterprise,” says Rob Sheil, the nonprofit’s executive director. “We’re trying to provide opportunity for folks to lift themselves out of poverty.”
According to Sheil, the organization provides “a hand up” rather than a handout. To earn renter equity, individuals must attend monthly meetings — similar to association meetings hosted for condominium residents — pay rent on time and complete a weekly task by participating in property maintenance and upkeep.
“Participation in the weekly task not only helps lower operating costs, which is how you earn the renters’ equity, but also gives you a sense of ownership you can’t get anywhere else,” Sheil says.
After five years, residents have the opportunity to earn $4,100. After 10 years, they can early up to $10,000.
Sheil says many of the residents use the money to pay for things like medical expenses, education or tuition, camps for children or grandchildren and even as a downpayment on a home.
“One of our former resident board members who had been with us more than 10 years recently moved with her husband into Price Hill, and they purchased a home,” Sheil says. “And while we miss her day-to-day leadership and her presence as a resident board member, it’s just fabulous to have someone with that success when, by all rights, no one would have really predicted that 10 years ago.”
For Sheil, it’s all about “the American dream,” though his vision differs from the typical own-a-home mentality.
“As a real estate professional for more than 20 years, I love the idea of — in certain situations — people owning their own home,” he says. “But I think the American dream is having a solid roof over your head and the ability to build wealth over time by doing the right things and by being invested in your neighborhood, your community, your school system, perhaps a worship or faith group or a garden club.
“You commit to the people around you in the neighborhood that you come in contact with every day, so to me the American dream is a whole lot more than that picket fence and the house behind it.” 

Do Good: 

•    Support Cornerstone Corporation for Shared Equity by donating.

•    The organization will host its first-ever fundraising event in May. Contact Rob Sheil for more information.

•    Change your idea of what's possible for individuals who appear to have limited means.

Read more articles by Brittany York.

Brittany York is a freelance writer, adjunct English composition instructor and server at Orchids at Palm Court. She loves travel and photography. Keep up with Brittany on Instagram @brittbrittbrittbrittany.
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