The Homesteading and Urban Redevelopment Corporation (HURC), dedicated to improving the quality of housing stock and increasing home ownership among first time, low and moderate income home buyers in Cincinnati and Hamilton County, began working in Price Hill in 2018. Price Hill also became a focus neighborhood for The Port, which manages HURC, in 2018 after funding for a multi-year, dedicated revitalization program was secured from public and private sources, which included the City of Cincinnati, Farmer Family Foundation and Greater Cincinnati Neighborhoods Housing Revitalization Loan Fund.
The Port began pursuing funding for a comprehensive affordable housing program in Price Hill from the Farmer Family Foundation in early 2017. In December 2017, a $500,000 grant was awarded to The Port to fund HURC’s acquisition, stabilization, rehabilitation and sale of properties and the Price Hill Will (PHW) Homestead Program. Private funding was also sought from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation; in 2018, it made an impact loan of $1MM to The Port to create the Greater Cincinnati Neighborhoods Housing Revitalization Loan Fund which provided gap financing for HURC to begin work in Price Hill in 2018.
According to the 2016 American Community Planning Survey (ACS), Price Hill had 3,127 vacant units, which is 19.1 percent of all housing units in the community. By engaging with PHW, the community development corporation, HURC has developed a strategic, coordinated effort to reduce vacancy and blight in the neighborhood while increasing affordably priced home sales.
HURC utilizes the tools of the Hamilton County Landbank, also managed by The Port, and National Community Stabilization Trust to acquire vacant, blighted and abandoned homes. Once a property is acquired, HURC fully renovates the home with updated interior finishes and all mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems are brought up to meet City codes. Sales prices for HURC homes range from $75,000 to $165,000 which is in line with private home sale prices in the Price Hill community at this time. HURC requires a subsidy to rehab homes in order to maintain affordability.
According to Deborah Robb, Director of HURC, the organization is focusing on Mayfield Avenue because the vacancy rate on the street exceeded 40 percent in 2018. Through a strategic approach, HURC will rehab three homes on Mayfield with the goal of reducing the vacancy rate on the street below 15 percent. The first home that HURC acquired and rehabbed at 3637 Mayfield Avenue was sold to a first time homebuyer for $98,000 in September 2018. The concentrated effort on Mayfield Avenue is a positive example of how the HURC can bring life back to a street as well as preserve the investment of homeowners in the surrounding neighborhood.
The Port and PHW are coordinating their efforts by bringing both initiatives to First Avenue in West Price Hill. PHW is rehabbing a home on the street, 1824 First Avenue and The Port will bring REACH, a market-rate based housing program, to rehab 1638 First Avenue. HURC is looking for a house in the vicinity. The investments of each of these programs on First Avenue will, in aggregate, result in blight and nuisance abatement, improved community quality of life, stabilization and unproductive properties being returned to contributing, tax-paying status.
HURC rehabbed seven houses over a three-year period to assist in building an affordable and revitalized housing stock in the Price Hill community.