Impact Cleveland plan receives $500,000 grant

By SARALYN NORKUS saralyn.norkus@clevelandbanner.com
Posted 6/24/17

The work being done by the United Way of the Ocoee Region’s Impact Cleveland initiative in the Blythe-Oldfield community has been bolstered by a $500,000 grant from Project Reinvest: …

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Impact Cleveland plan receives $500,000 grant

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The work being done by the United Way of the Ocoee Region’s Impact Cleveland initiative in the Blythe-Oldfield community has been bolstered by a $500,000 grant from Project Reinvest: Neighborhoods.

“All of this plays into a larger story — a larger effort to revitalize Cleveland’s most overlooked neighborhoods,” remarked Dustin Tommey, Executive Director of Impact Cleveland.

Project Reinvest: Neighborhoods has awarded a total of $27.5 million to 55 nonprofit organizations across the country. Per the NeighborWorks America website, these organizations all have the mission of helping to “stabilize and revitalize distressed communities suffering from the direct and/or indirect effects of the foreclosure crisis.”

Out of the 55 organizations, Impact Cleveland was just one of two Tennessee-based nonprofits and the only United Way to receive the $500,000 grant.

With the money, they have begun the process of purchasing four homes to renovate and a lot on which to build a new home. The homes will then be marketed to neighborhood residents or long-time renters, first-time homeowners, or public servants including first responders, clergy, government and nonprofit employees, teachers and others.

The organization has a goal of renovating/building 47 homes in the area over five years, and the Project Reinvest: Neighborhoods grant is helping to jump-start things.

“This grant really only begins an incredible process moving forward. It will produce an asset that we can then invest for ... homes six through 47 — that’s what this grant is starting and making possible,” United Way of the Ocoee Region President and CEO Matt Ryerson explained.

Impact Cleveland is hoping to boost home ownership in the Blythe-Oldfield neighborhood with this project. Currently, home ownership rates there are around 35 percent, which is 30 percent lower than the national average of 65 percent

“We are trying to turn the tide of home ownership rates and we believe this is the catalyst for doing that,” commented Tommey.

Tommey added the goal is for home ownership rates to trend upward to at least 50 percent.

“One of the greatest needs in our community is affordable home ownership — this is a beginning toward helping and addressing that,” Tommey declared.

The Project Reinvest: Neighborhoods grant has a second facet, which focuses on economic development. Six businesses on the Wildwood/East Inman Street corridor have been selected for facade improvements.

“This is a small piece of the puzzle of Cleveland’s grand vision for downtown revitalization. We want to be a part of that momentum,” revealed Tommey.

With the project having begun this past week, it is expected to be completed by Nov. 19, 2018. The renovation budget for the first four homes is estimated to be around $30,000 per house.

Beginning as a United Way initiative in 2014, Impact Cleveland has five areas of impact: physical revitalization, social revitalization, leadership development, neighborhood safety, and economic development. Since its inception, Impact Cleveland has generated and reinvested more than $6 million back into the local economy through various grants and programs.

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