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Program Aims to Help Longtime Residents in Gentrifying Neighborhood

Brent Warren Brent Warren Program Aims to Help Longtime Residents in Gentrifying NeighborhoodHomes under repair in the King Lincoln District — Photo by Walker Evans.
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A program that provides money to Near East Side residents interested in fixing up their homes received a funding boost earlier this month.

The program is being administered by PACT (Partners Achieving Community Transformation), the nonprofit focused on revitalizing the neighborhoods surrounding OSU Hospital East that is supported by OSU, the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority, and the City of Columbus.

The new funding came from Fifth Third Bank, and complements money already committed from OSU, the United Way of Central Ohio, and the Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing. A total of $200,000 will help to renovated about 20 homes over the course of the next year.

With the housing market still surging and many older homes in the area being renovated by private investors and sold at a premium, the program is aimed squarely at existing homeowners, many of whom have lived in the neighborhood for years.

“This is part of our focus on sustaining existing housing stock and being supportive of and engaging with current residents,” said David Cofer, Executive Director of PACT.

The renovations will start this fall and likely continue through the beginning of the summer. Many of the homes being renovated are clustered along Taylor Avenue, although some are located on East Long Street and North Ohio Avenue.

“We want the program to have a concentrated impact, we want you to drive down the street and know something went on there,” said Cofer. “We looked at two criteria; we want to either be in areas already experiencing redevelopment – in which case the program complements what is already happening – or, we want to be catalytic. In this go around, we’re checking both boxes; Taylor can be catalytic, then on Ohio and Long, which is on the edges of the work going on at Poindexter, it serves as complement to new investment.”

Cofer added that the goal is to expand the program in the future. The current phase of renovations follows a two-year pilot program that resulted in about eight homes receiving more than $75,000 in investment. That work was done in partnership with Homeport and the Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission.

“This is a complementary piece to the total package, which is a community transformation effort,” Cofer said. “We benefit from private investments, and a program like this is important…it’s about preserving exiting units, but everything works together – if you had just an exterior repair program without private investment, you wouldn’t see gains, and if you just had the private investment, some people would be left out  – it really takes a concerted, collective effort.”

Residents interested in applying for repair assistance – which covers everything from porch and roof repairs to new windows or siding – can contact PACT via www.eastpact.org.

Photos by Walker Evans.

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