Come Home Cincinnati initiative to increase home ownership, redevelop vacant areas

In late September, a new initiative was announced that will help increase home ownership and help to redevelop the Cincinnati neighborhoods that have been hit hardest by vacancy and abandonment. Come Home Cincinnati is a partnership with the Hamilton County Land Bank, private lenders and community development corporations.
 
The initiative will likely require using funds from Focus 52, which finances neighborhood projects. It will establish a loan guarantee pool that will range from $2.5 million to $4.5 million—other aspects will cost $3.4 million, but not all of the funding will come from the city.
 
Come Home Cincinnati will start with 100 homes in the pilot neighborhoods of Evanston and Walnut Hills to leverage existing public and private investment in the housing strategies. Over time, the initiative will expand to other neighborhoods as resources expand.
 
One of the key redevelopment corridors that will be targeted through Come Home Cincinnati is Woodburn Avenue in Evanston.
 
To qualify, owner-occupants will have to meet a minimum credit requirement, agree to live in the rehabbed home for five years, and pay for five percent of the total rehab and acquisition costs as a down payment. After that five years, the loan will be refinanced at the same or a better interest rate.
 
Potential partners for the initiative are the Cincinnati Development Fund, Northside Bank and Trust, Model Group, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, the Cincinnati Preservation Association, the Xavier University Community Building Institute, the University of Cincinnati Community Design Center, Evanston Community Council, Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and the Community Development Corporations Association of Greater Cincinnati.
 
Since 2011, the city has worked closely with the Hamilton County Land Bank, which helps combat vacancy and abandonment and helps remove obstacles to redevelopment in all neighborhoods in the county.
 
The Land Bank’s focus neighborhood strategy includes 14 neighborhoods in the county, eight of which are in the city—Avondale, College Hill, Evanston, Madisonville, Northside, Price Hill, South Cumminsville and Walnut Hills. The Moving Ohio Forward demolition grant allows the Land Bank and the city to address the worst blight in these neighborhoods.
 
City Council now needs to approve a motion that gives city administration 60 days to develop a plan and budget for Come Home Cincinnati.

By Caitlin Koenig
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