Why did we buy another building?
Next-step and permanent housing options are limited for homeless women with children. This shortage has meant that our guests experience detrimental effects on family stability and children’s health and educational outcomes if they are unable to secure stable housing after their stay at Lydia’s House. A LISC study, “Housing Affordability in Hamilton County” reports: “For every 100 of the lowest income households, there are only 28 units affordable and available. This equates to a gap of 40,000 units for those making $14,678 or less (30% of Hamilton County’s median income).” Current housing options after a stay at Lydia’s House shelter may include returning to unsafe housing or neighborhood where no walkable assets leave car-less families stranded.
Lydia’s House guests have expressed a desire to stay in Norwood and continue in relationship with the Lydia’s House community, while living independently in their own apartments. Because many grew up in foster care or abusive homes, they have little or no support with care for their children. 70% of women return for meals, events, to do laundry, for case management, or for emergency cash assistance or food.
As a result of this growing after care program, combined with the regional housing crisis for low-income families, Lydia’s House discerned in November 2016 a need to move into next step/ permanent housing for exiting guests.
How are we moving forward?
Informed by the affordable housing crisis in our region, and the experiences of guests of Lydia’s House whom we’ve accompanied through the inefficiencies of our county’s currently scattered housing placement, Lydia’s House purchased 4502 Carter Avenue, a vacant eight-unit apartment building and commercial space two blocks from our original property.
The building was identified by the city as a “Top 5 problem property”; city officials encouraged the purchase and renovation. Two donors stepped forward to buy the building and Lydia’s House gained ownership in June 2017. Through a grant from Christ Church Cathedral, Lydia’s House formally hired Ben Eilerman to direct the renovation effort and plan for the acquisition of additional neighborhood property in the coming years.
When the building is renovated…
Our goal is to provide supportive housing for Lydia’s House families with rents affordable to those earning 30% area median income. Rents will be subsidized through creating a zero-debt product, cross subsidization of units (some families will be eligible for section 8 vouchers), rentals assistance as needed from the Lydia’s House budget, and innovative utility arrangements.
In response to this need, the Supportive Affordable Housing project will have on-site support services, access to early childhood development resources in the region, and specific on-site programming for moms with children under the age of 5. Assuming funding resources are available, city zoning would allow the commercial space on the ground floor to be an early childhood development center , giving women on the property very close and consistent access to child care. The new larger community space will allow the extended Lydia’s House community to gather regularly for meals, continuing education and events.
Assuming success, Lydia’s House plans to expand housing in Norwood to a total of 24 units by 2020, allowing for a constant stream of graduates to enter 4502 Carter, and those exiting 4502 Carter to move into single family homes or duplexes scattered throughout the neighborhood. In addition to self owned units, Lydia’s House will continue to refer to other housing providers, offering guests a variety of next step housing options.