OUR ECONOMIC IMPACT
THE DIFFERENCE TO FAMILIES
Research throughout the United States and in our own community demonstrates the measurable improvements in health, education, community safety, stability and wealth generation of increased homeownership.
Children of homeowners
Communities with more homeowners
*These findings hold true even when other factors are taken into account
Our mission is to build sustainable, resilient, and financially literate communities. Here are just a few examples of our impact over the past 40 years.
with the Beekman Corridor Coalition
From a Side Lot to a Children’s Community Garden
When Pamela Woods first became active with the Beekman Corridor Coalition, she was quiet and did not speak in public. Over time, she became the Chair for the Beekman Corridor Coalition’s Housing Committee and a member of WIN’s Board. As the Housing Committee Chair, Pamela worked with other residents who wanted to get vacant blighted lots into the hands of people living in the community who would invest time and money into improving and maintaining them. With WIN’s support, they successfully negotiated an agreement with the Landbank to waive their standard $500-$1,000 fee for vacant lots in the Beekman Corridor for homeowners and long-time residents. Since the launch of the Beekman Corridor “Dollar Lot” pilot program, around 30 vacant lots have been acquired by residents for $1, plus title & transfer fees. Many of them are now working on projects to install green infrastructure to manage stormwater, plant mini-orchards and native species to support wildlife and attract pollinators and create space to spend time with family and neighbors.
Pamela knew exactly which lot she was interested in taking control of—a vacant lot near her home had been a problem for years, garnering dozens of complaints and violations for overgrown weeds, litter, dumping, junk cars and more. Citations & fines were added to property tax bill, bringing the delinquency to nearly $11,000 before the land went into forfeiture and ended up in the City’s abandoned property program. The sloping corner lot, encircled with trees that drops down to the wooded West Fork Mill Creek would be the perfect place to create a safe, educational, green community space for kids and families in her neighborhood, somewhere they could learn about gardening, healthy food, and nature. “I took cooking classes in Home-Ec when I was in high school, but they never talked about where the food came from or how to grow it. I just thought vegetables came from the Kroger.”
Pamela Woods & her family are a perfect example of the how community ownership of these properties can bring positive change and once they acquired the lot, things changed for the better. The grass was cut and free from litter. They devised attractive but effective ways to “defend” their property from illegal dumpers and junk cars, using decorative stones and planters full of bright flowers. But it was clear it would take a lot of work and planning to complete the transformation at the corner of Herron & Powers St. Like many of vacant lots, this property has issues with compacted clay soil, likely lead contamination, steep slopes, and stormwater run-off issues.
Fortunately, Environmental Justice funding from the US EPA is supporting WIN’s efforts to develop partnerships and resources to help residents like Pamela. WIN is looking at ways to incorporate green infrastructure to reduce stormwater run-off, pollution, and blight. This includes trees, gardens, and rainwater collection. With WIN’s support, Pamela applied for and received funding from Keep Cincinnati Beautiful through the “Safe & Clean” and “Spaces to Places” programs. Her project will receive funding, professional landscape design services, technical support, and additional volunteers to build her garden.
To get the next phase of her project moving, Pamela knocked on neighbors’ doors to invite them to an event to get their ideas and input about what they would like the Children’s Garden to have, skills she learned and developed through her work with the Beekman Corridor Coalition. Landscape design firm Human Nature incorporated this feedback into an incredible design concept/site plan that incorporates community space, nature education, native plants, and trees, raised vegetable beds, and pollinator gardens. The design also incorporates green infrastructure elements to slow and filter stormwater run-off as it moves down slope to the West Fork Creek.
WIN has connected Pamela & her neighbors to volunteer groups to help remove invasive species and clean up the vestiges of illegal dumping that had accumulated along the creek. We’ve also helped her document the support of her neighbors and the Community Council to get City approval for necessary zoning & permit issues. It’s taken a lot of time and hard work, and there’s more ahead. But Pamela believes it’s worth it, if it means families and children in this neighborhood have a safe, green place to garden and enjoy the beauty of nature. WIN wholeheartedly agrees, and we’re extremely proud to work alongside neighborhood leaders like Pamela.
From Foundation to Home in 1 Day
In a single day, this foundation at 5917 Piqua Ave in College Hill will be transformed into an energy-efficient, two-story, three-bedroom home. It will be the 20th home that Working In Neighborhoods (WIN) has completed in College Hill since 2006 when the agency began working with the community to replace vacant and blighted properties with safe, affordable living spaces for low- to moderate-income families.
Built by Unibilt Industries in Vandalia, OH, this will be WIN’s second home using modular construction. The house will arrive in two modules complete with windows, doors, cabinetry, lighting, plumbing fixtures, and flooring. Once on site, the first module is secured to the foundation and then the second module is stacked on top, and the roof trusses are raised and fastened. Then the mechanical systems are connected, finishes are touched up, and landscaping is completed.
“The transformation is truly amazing,” says WIN’s Community Organizer, Rigel Behrens. She remembers the installation of the first Unibilt house and noted, “When neighbors left for work in the morning it was an empty lot with a foundation and when they returned later in the day there was a house.”
The LEED-certified home’s open concept first floor includes a living/dining room, fully equipped kitchen, laundry hookup, one bedroom, and a full bath. WIN’s Housing Coordinator, Whitney Schieltz, explains, having a bed and bath on the first floor provides greater accessibility and allows the homeowner to better age in place. The second floor includes two bedrooms with two baths and walk-in closets. There is also a full, unfinished basement with a rough-in for a potential fourth bath. On the exterior, the future homeowner will be able to relax on a covered front porch, and a driveway will provide space for off-street parking.
“There are several advantages to modular construction. By building the house in a controlled environment, you can cut down on production time, reduce costs and waste, and produce a more air-tight, energy-efficient home”, Schieltz explained. During the design process, Schieltz joined Hope Wilson, WIN’s Operations Director, at the Unibilt factory for a full day of finish and fixture selections intended to make the 1,560 sq. ft. home a welcoming environment for its future family. Schieltz emphasizes, “When we talk about building sustainable homes, it is about energy-efficiency, but it’s also about allowing the homeowner to remain in their home and to become part of the community.”
“At WIN, we don’t just build houses, we invest in sustainability from every angle: building energy-efficient homes, teaching homeowners budgeting and maintenance strategies, and developing relationships with residents so they can become leaders in their communities,” said Schieltz. “Owning a home has lasting impact, it allows families to gain equity and wealth that they can pass on to future generations.”
The Impact of Homebuyer’s Education
Mindy Koff has taken WIN’s home buying classes not once but twice. The first time she learned she was not ready to buy a home; the second time she learned not only how to successfully buy her first home, but to later buy three other condos to supplement her retirement!
Mindy grew up in the home her parents owned in North Avondale, but she says, “We never talked finances.” As her career as an administrative assistant to a real estate attorney and later as a unit coordinator of a cardiovascular unit at Tri Health progressed, she began planning for her future, thinking beyond renting a place to live and wondering how to invest for her retirement.
“When I took the first class, I learned I was not ready to buy a home because I realized there was more to buying a home than paying a mortgage. I learned about credit scores, interest rates, utilities, taxes, home inspections, home warranties, developing an emergency fund, and how the banking system works. I had never thought about ‘what if’ a health scare or some other problem happens. I took the class a second time to actually prepare to buy a home.”
The first condo Mindy bought had problems with the air conditioner during a very hot summer. With the emergency fund she had developed she was ready to fix the problem. She also subsequently decided to purchase and move into three additional condos, using the skills and knowledge she learned from WIN. “I read between the lines of the contract, even if it takes a day at home.”
Mindy was ready to retire in July of 2020 from her health care position at Tri Health when she developed covid. With her shortness of breath, she discovered she was no longer able to climb three sets of steps to her Loveland home. So, Mindy was able to buy another condo with a garage on the first floor to meet her changing needs.
By becoming a homeowner and an investor, Mindy has gained not only a comfortable home but also more clarity about how to manage her decision-making. Her capacity to adapt to changing needs and to prepare for unexpected surprises has grown. She has rejected one theme she hears around her: “If you want it, get it now, because it won’t be there tomorrow.” Now, as she continues to build wealth and save for her future, she asks herself, “Do you want it, or do you need it?” Her economic competencies have helped her manage her investment decisions wisely and build equity for a more comfortable future.
WIN Changes Neighborhoods and Lives.
College Hill, Cincinnati Ohio
In 2008 the country was experiencing a serious economic crisis and low-income communities were hit especially hard. Home prices in College Hill were plummeted from an average selling price of $108,461 to $73,000. Predatory lending practices are common in low income communities where residents traditionally have little access to financial literacy training. In College Hill there were 12 foreclosed homes on Cedar Avenue alone and lenders had sold 50% of the homes for under $20,000. The neighborhood was in a critical situation.
At the request of the College Hill Community Council, WIN stepped in to help stop the rapid decline of the community and help stabilize and rebuild home values and the neighborhood.
WIN’s Efforts in College Hill:
Impact of WIN Programs and Resident Efforts:
One Family’s Story:
Picking the Paint Color
Kim is one of the homeowners who went through WIN’s program in College Hill. She had finished WIN’s homebuyer classes, including classes in financial planning, saving, and obtaining loans, but she never dreamed she would eventually be able to purchase a WIN home. Now, thanks to the WIN programs, she owns a newly remodeled three-bedroom home on Cedar Avenue and lives there with her twin six-year old boys.
There’s only one thing more powerful than providing a home for your children, and that’s providing a home for them while teaching them that they can be an important part of that process. Kim worked with the boys prior to purchasing their new home and shared with them some of the financial success strategies she had been learning in the WIN program. Then she promised the boys, “If we work together and you boys help save money, you can pick the color of paint for your room.” Now the boys live in a home that they actively contributed to purchasing.
This has been one of the more powerful outcomes of our WIN programs. “When we see financial literacy being passed on to future generations, that’s one of the ways we know we are making a lasting impact.” says Hope Wilson, WIN’s Operations Director.
“WIN’s work not only transforms brick and mortar buildings, but also families’ futures, especially those families who are ready to work together to purchase their first homes.”
—Sister Barbara Busch
A thriving community is one that’s empowered to work together to address issues and tackle challenges to make lives richer and more productive.
WIN Changes Neighborhoods and Lives.
South Cumminsville, Cincinnati Ohio
South Cumminsville was a neighborhood with a multitude of issues. Factory jobs had moved overseas, businesses were moving out, storefronts stood empty, and houses stood abandoned. Over time sidewalks began to crumble and crime started creeping into the community. When residents got the news from the Health Department that, along with the area being designated a food desert, life expectancy was also declining, they knew they needed to take action.
That’s when residents reached out to WIN. Working side by side with community members, WIN was able to provide South Cumminsville with the resources, training, and support they needed to stop the decline and start rebuilding their community.
WIN’s Efforts in South Cumminsville:
Impact of WIN Programs and Resident Efforts:
A Young Community
WIN’s powerful commitment to giving residents the training and the tools they need to take responsibility for their own lives leads to individuals, young and old, becoming the leaders driving positive change in their communities for decades.
At 18 years old, Iyah Brown is one of those leaders. Iyah is the coordinator of the WIN Community Garden in South Cumminsville and she is helping change her community from a food desert to a healthy thriving neighborhood. She coordinates the monthly garden club meetings, manages the garden plots, and even has her own plot where she grows food for her family. Iayh and her family reside in one of the 58 houses that WIN has rehabbed in the area and they are an integral part of the revitalization of South Cumminsville.
“WIN does a fantastic job of finding ways to coalesce people from neighborhoods with people and resources from the broader community to produce great outcomes in housing, community development and individual empowerment. WIN itself is a significant asset to this region and beyond.”
—Ed Diller, Senior Counsel – Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP
WIN serves individuals and families in the Greater Cincinnati Region. The specific geographic regions served by each program are listed below:
Housing Development: Targeted City Neighborhoods in Hamilton County (currently Northside, College Hill and South Cumminsville)
Financial Capability: Southwest Ohio (Adams, Brown, Butler, Clinton, Clermont, Hamilton, Montgomery, and Warren Counties), Northern Kentucky (Boone, Campbell, and Kenton Counties), and Eastern Indiana (Dearborn, Ohio, and Switzerland Counties).
Energy: Ohio Counties: Butler, Warren, Hamilton, Clermont, Brown, and Clinton Counties. Kentucky Counties: Boone, Kenton, Campbell, Grant, and Pendleton Counties.
Community Building: Targeted City Neighborhoods, with a strong focus in South Cumminsville and surrounding neighborhoods.