Price Hill Will: Opening paths to homeownership

Price Hill Will now has a homesteading program that helps working families on their path to homeownership. Prior to establishing the program — which is currently in its pilot phase — Price Hill Will had rehabbed 61 homes through its long-standing Buy-Improve-Sell program.

Buy-Improve-Sell focuses exclusively on the Cedar Grove area and the Incline District, and aims to take abandoned homes “with good bones, and that are strategic to the street,” and turn them back into assets to the community, says Ken Smith, executive director of Price Hill Will.

The homesteading program is an extension of the agency’s existing real estate development efforts. The new program allows Price Hill Will to consider “homes that we wouldn’t otherwise,” Smith says.

Homes can be anywhere in the neighborhood, but must be near code compliance and close to move-in ready. Price Hill Will rehabs the homes to liveable conditions, and then works with partner organizations Santa Maria and the Catholic Charities of Southwest Ohio to identify families that could be a good match for the property.

The program is open to families who would not qualify for a traditional mortgage. Families must be able to afford the monthly payments at 30 percent of their total income or less, and be willing to invest sweat equity into maintaining and further improving the home.

After reviewing their monthly budget with the referring organization, families then go through homebuyer education, which is provided by Working in Neighborhoods.

Smith says these steps are important in helping families understand the program requirements and expectations. “We don’t want to put people in a situation they can’t sustain.”

The homes are then sold to the families via a five-year land contract, which is repaid to Price Hill Will in modest monthly installments. The homes are sold at an affordable price that covers the nonprofit's initial investment into the property.

To date, the program has placed two families in homes in the neighborhood. Initially, Price Hill Will had aimed to complete 10 homes in the first nine months of the program.

“The challenge is finding the right homes that we can quickly get code compliant,” Smith says.

As the program moves forward, Price Hill Will is continuing to explore ways to scale it sustainably, while making sure that the homes are attainable for neighborhood families.

“We need people saving working class homes that are affordable,” Smith says. “We can’t let Cincinnati become a city where people who work here can’t live.”
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Kamal Kimball is a freelance writer and co-founder of Ampersand Creative Services.