Helping housing get healthier: PWC’s Innovation Center nabs $840,000

The Whole Home Innovation Center, a one-stop “healthy home” initiative launched earlier this year by People Working Cooperatively (PWC), has procured two major funding infusions: $700,000 from the state of Ohio, and $140,000 from the Jacob G. Schmidlapp Trusts, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee.


The Ohio funding for PWC’s innovation center will be used over a two-year period for operating costs.


“The first step in positively transforming the lives of Ohioans in need begins with health and safety in the home for residents of all ages,” PWC president and CEO Jock Pitts said when the state monies were announced July 22. “We are thankful and honored that Ohio has dedicated funding to the operation of our Whole Home Innovation Center.”


Then, on August 6, PWC unveiled the Schmidlapp grant, which officials say will be used to reach a wider audience by enabling the center to add staff (currently a full-time worker, a part-timer, and an intern), as well as increase the number of educational displays within the center and add more programming.


“The link between health and housing is not well understood,” says Chris Owens, PWC’s vice president of development. “The [Schmidlapp] grant allows PWC to increase awareness through the Whole Home Innovation Center’s comprehensive healthy homes education programs and services.”


The Whole Home Innovation Center is located adjacent to the PWC’s headquarters on Paddock Road in Bond Hill. It opened in February, and its backers say the non-profit’s new facility provides an integrated approach to health and housing, synthesizing content from evidence-based programs to help people understand the important effects the residential built environment can have on their health.


Part think tank and part idea lab, the Innovation Center is a convening space where interested parties work together, sharing information and ideas through educational workshops, interactive demonstrations, seminars, and more.


“As a pediatrician, I care for children whose illnesses are triggered by problems with their housing,” says Dr. Nick Newman, who is affiliated with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. “The Whole Home Innovation Center at People Working Cooperatively will be a great resource for the Cincinnati community. Improving the home is one of the best ‘medicines’ that these children desperately need.”


Steve Ringel, who is president of Ohio Market/Care Source, a PWC board member, and a donor to the organization, adds, “It’s all about our home; it’s part of who we are. People want to live at home. There is now an opportunity to work together to make that goal possible.”


One of the major initiatives the added funding will help pay for is a seven-week “Stepping On” educational series that begins August 15. This class is free to active adults over age 60 who live independently and are concerned about falling or are worried about someone in their home falling. (For more information and to register for the series, visit Whole Home.)


The innovation center seeks to build on the legacy of the PWC, a nonprofit incorporated in 1975 to serve low-income, elderly, and disabled homeowners in 20 counties in Greater Cincinnati, Dayton, Northern Kentucky, and Indiana. PWC says its mission is to strengthen those communities by providing professional, critical home repair, weatherization, and modification services to help residents stay safely in their homes.


Since its founding, PWC says its staff of licensed, trained employees and corps of 4,000 volunteers have assisted more than 320,000 individuals. For more information on those services, visit http://www.pwchomerepairs.org or call 513-351-7921.

Read more articles by Matthew Hall.

Matthew Hall is a Mount Lookout-based freelance writer/editor specializing in covering architectural and design trends. His career includes stints with the Cincinnati Business Courier, the Cincinnati Enquirer, Fatbrain.com (an online bookseller) and Boutique Design magazine. He's also happy to be a later-in-life dad who adopted two children from Guatemala with his wife.
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