Over-the-Rhine Community Housing,
Executive Director Mary B. Rivers leads the charge to ensure affordable housing opportunities and encourage community collaboration to build a healthy and inclusive neighborhood. Located at 114 W. 14th Street in the heart of the Washington Park redevelopment area, OTRCH has provided support and opportunity to low-income residents for more than 30 years.
Its current structure is the result of the 2006 merger between ReSTOC and Over-the-Rhine Housing Network aimed at creating an even stronger advocacy presence for residents struggling with issues ranging from poverty, to substance abuse, to chronic homelessness.
Over-the-Rhine continues to experience growth and redevelopment as the city’s urban core, and the hub for its rich and vibrant arts community. With its massive collection of Italianate architecture, eclectic residents, hip retail and entertainment venues and storied past OTR has become the much beloved home to a diverse community. As that community continues to evolve, there is one organization on a mission to provide support and tell the stories of low-income residents and members of the recovery population, including the homeless.
“OTRCH provides a range of affordable housing options for singles, the elderly, and recovery populations leaving shelters,” says Rivers. “We manage some 400 units in OTR.” In addition to individual units, OTRCH operates the Jimmy Heath House, which serves the chronically homeless and those struggling with alcoholism by providing case management and support as well as a safe place to live. OTRCH is also working with 3CDC and local developers to offer market rate housing including the newly renovated condominiums on the corner of 14th and Race, as well as new construction on Pleasant Street.
This week there is one more reason to spend your evening mingling with the residents and community members of Over-the-Rhine - OTRCH’s signature fall benefit. This year’s event, “Celebrating our Beloved Community,” a dinner + poetry reading benefitting Over-the-Rhine Community Housing, Thursday, Oct. 13 from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. at Music Hall. The event will showcase four local poets with deep roots in the city's urban core: Pauletta Hansell, Desirae Hosley, Michael Henson, and Richard Hague. They will be accompanied by acoustic guitar.
Thursday's poetry was developed with input from OTR community members. The poets worked in community venues, including the Children’s Creative Corner, to reach a diverse group of residents. Participants ranged from homeless, to low-income residents to newly transplanted condo-dwellers. “It’s about connecting with people and seeing the value they bring to the neighborhood,” says Rivers. “Spoken word embodies the spirit of this community. It creates a way for everyone to experience and share in the love for OTR.”
In keeping with the spirit of OTRCH, residents old and new alike shared their thoughts about what makes their neighborhood special. “The idea was to weave the conversation into the lives of the residents,” says Rivers. Workshops focused on sharing stories and encouraging conversations focused on the love of OTR. “It was an opportunity for people that have lived in OTR for a while to talk about what they love about their neighborhood – and an opportunity for people to listen,” says Rivers.
This year’s event will also include door prizes and food from What’s for Dinner. In addition, OTRCH will give this year’s Partner Award to the OTR Marianists, three men who are dedicated to the people of the community, and who do everything from providing healthcare to the homeless, to helping those formerly incarcerated, to teaching in neighborhood schools.
• Attend “Celebrating our Beloved Community.” Tickets available online
or at the door. $50 general admission; $20 with student ID
• Volunteer on Saturday mornings. Call Brittany Skelton, 513-381-1171 about Saturday morning volunteer opportunities.
• Donate furniture, beds and household items to community members in need. New items preferred.
• Participate in the Jimmy Heath Community Kitchen by bringing a covered dish and eating a meal with the residents. Call Andy Hutzell, 513-381-1171, for details.
• Spread the word! Use our social media buttons to share this story on Facebook or Tweet about it to your followers.
By Deidra Wiley Necco