City Beat / October 13, 2016
The Cincinnati-based CLCI has been nationally recognized as a pioneer of the community learning center model, a concept that places schools in the middle of efforts to aid low- and moderate-income families. That means providing so-called “wrap around” services not usually associated with education, such as mental health care, food pantries and eye care centers.
Now, the organization is launching an ambitious new project: a partnership with Habitat for Humanity that will rehab seven single-family homes around Oyler in an effort to provide homeownership opportunities to families in Lower Price Hill.
CLCI will kick off that partnership at an Oct. 15 event designed to recruit applicants to the program. The first two houses to be renovated are on Burns and Staebler streets, nestled right next to the school.
“Our goal is to build the right learning conditions for our students so they can have success,” says CLCI Director of Housing Development Adelyn Hall. “We’ve found that inside the school, we have a really good set of partnerships and all these things in place to make sure they succeed. But when we talk about distressed neighborhoods and dealing with poverty, you can’t separate that from housing.”
“Having stable housing has huge impacts on your ability to be successful,” Hall says.
Thirty-one-year-old Steve Stanley can attest to that. Stanley grew up in Lower Price Hill and went to Oyler, and one of his three children also attends the school. Last year, the family was living in a rented house in Lower Price Hill and facing eviction because its owners wanted to repurpose it. Hall and Kamine were working with Stanley to find new housing options when they hit upon a bold solution.
“One day Darlene (Kamine) got this great idea,” Stanley says. “She said, ‘Why don’t you go ahead and buy a house?’ I was like, ‘Me? Own a house? No way.’ ”
CLCI helped Stanley connect with Habitat for Humanity, which enrolled him in its program. Stanley spent the required 250 hours helping renovate a house, and in February the family moved into the three-bedroom home in East Price Hill.
“It’s great,” he says. “No one’s coming to say, ‘You gotta move out.’
Getting his own house was a catalyst, Stanley says. Before starting the Habitat process, he had been getting various government assistance, including disability. But the push toward owning a home and want for a better life for his kids motivated him to take courses that allowed him to get a full-time paid job as a security guard at Oyler. These days, he also coaches basketball at the school and works down the street at the neighborhood’s new laundromat.
“He’s so resourceful and amazing,” Kamine says. “It was the housing process that gave him that motivation..”