Moving Forward & Creating Neighborhoods of Choice
The end of the year marks the end of a very creative, intense and enlightening collaboration for Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority. Over the past two years, everyone worked diligently to create the West End Transformation Plan that includes a reimagined Stanley Rowe Towers, Rowhouses and Liberty Street Apartments. The Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant process did more than create a vision for the West End, it also built stronger relationships between staff, residents, businesses, community partners and stakeholders. After dozens of meetings and brainstorming sessions focused on the three core goals of people, housing and neighborhood, CMHA proves once again that we were transparent in stating what we were going to do and carrying out those actions. We did it with class for our residents because they are the reason for this great opportunity of applying for a $50 million grant that will benefit them and the community as we continue on our path of “re-imagining affordable housing”. The final plan will be submitted to HUD in December 2022.
In addition, I want to remind everyone of the body of transformation and rehab work that Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority has accomplished over the last twelve years often turning blighted communities into neighborhoods of choice. CMHA is a developer and has created new affordable housing across Hamilton County for a variety of families including seniors, and people with disabilities. We are currently developing Bennett Point which has 56 new workforce housing units in the Pendleton Neighborhood. (Please see the agency spotlight for a pictorial view.) All of the new construction adds up to over $50 million. As part of our commitment to provide quality affordable housing we have invested more than $133 million in modernizing the current housing stock. The development costs for this bold transformation adds up to over $180 million and provides sustainable housing for 908 families where retired teachers and government employees live next to low and moderate income families. The preservation and creation of quality affordable housing will continue as we move forward with transforming more housing through partnerships and different funding solutions. After seeing this body of work that has been done by CMHA who can say, “they believe in Choice Grant but not CMHA being able to do it correctly.”
Thank you to everyone for your dedication during this planning period. Your patience, cooperation and engagement has been some of the best I have ever seen and experienced. I look forward to sharing information with you as we move towards applying for the Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants.
I’m excited to share that Transforming Cincinnati’s West End, a short film on residents engaged to reimagine their housing and neighborhood, won The 2022 Better Cities Film Festival’s Best Civic Story Award! First+Main announced the winning films at the event in Detroit, Michigan. The Better Cities Film Festival is an annual film festival screening the world’s most inspiring stories about making cities, towns and neighborhoods better. Transforming Cincinnati’s West End was produced by LQ Consulting, LLC and you can view the award winning video by clicking here.
Also, I had the opportunity to hear from industry leaders about what’s in-store for the affordable housing industry during The Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA) Conference. Ms. Adrianne Todman, Deputy Secretary for HUD and US Representative Emanuel Cleaver were the featured speakers. The health of families in public housing was the focus of the policy and practice innovations panel. Information about the final rule timeline and expectations for NSPIRE Standards. National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE) is the new inspections model for PHAs and it prioritizes health, safety, and functional defects over appearance. Implementing inspections that better reflect the true physical conditions of the property. Details on new digital equity initiatives that housing authorities can apply for so more families are digitally connected was also shared. HUD has defined specific dollars set aside to help with the digital divide in public housing across the country. As you are aware, CMHA leveraged partnerships through the HUD-sponsored ConnectHome Initiative to provide more than 1500 family members across several CMHA properties with high speed internet access from Cincinnati Bell’s UniCity Smart City program. CMHA will seek ways to obtain the new funding available to continue to help additional families in our communities.
Have a happy holiday season!
Gregory D. Johnson, MS, EDEP, PHM
Chief Executive Officer