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Architecture, Housing, Ohio City

Front Steps joins with EDEN and PIRHL Developers to plan new facility

(Plain Press, February 2017)        Front Steps Housing and Services hopes to be able to move to a new location soon. Front Steps, currently located in a former Travelodge motel at 1545 W. 25th, sits on a ridge over the Cuyahoga River that is unstable.

Front Steps Housing and Services has teamed up with Emerald Development and Economic Network, (EDEN Inc.), and PIRHL Developers to apply for funding for a new Permanent Supportive Housing facility to be located at 2554 W. 25th on part of the old Forest City Foundry site at W. 25th and Queen. The proposed site is just south of where the new Horizon Education Centers facility recently opened.

At a community meeting on January 19th, at the offices of Metro West Community Development Organization, Kevin Brown of PIRHL Developers explained that Ohio City Inc.’ s development plan for the hillside along the east side of W. 25th calls for making a green space from Riverview to Detroit Avenue. Brown and Front Steps Executive Director Sherri Brandon described how some of Front Steps property has already washed over the hillside toward the Cuyahoga River Valley below. They have lost part of their parking lot and part of their community garden.

The proposed new Permanent Supportive Housing facility will have 60 fully furnished one bedroom, one bath apartments. Front Steps will provide and coordinate onsite supportive services through ongoing grant support and Medicaid billing. EDEN will be the property manager responsible for the day to day operations of the building, including 24/7 front desk security staffing. The facility will be constructed by PIRHL Developers in compliance with Enterprise Green Communities standards.

The new facility will be named St. Joseph Commons in honor of the members of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph which in 1986 founded Transitional Housing Inc., the organization which is now Front Steps.

Front Steps Executive Director Brandon says there are currently about 60 residents at Front Steps. About 90% of the residents are women. She says over the last couple of years, the program started accepting men as it transitioned to becoming a Permanent Supportive Housing facility. She says residents pay 30% of their income in rent.

Elaine Gimmel, Chief Operating Officer at EDEN, Inc. described the security of the proposed facility which will have the requirement that all residents and visitors be buzzed in by security to enter the building.

Brown said the partners in the project plan to apply for the Ohio Trust Fund’s Low Income Housing Tax Credits for this project in March of this year and expect to hear back by July. If the funding is approved, they hope to begin building in late winter or early spring of 2018 and complete the project by late spring or early summer of 2018.

Brown says while there will be other sources of funding, the major source is from Low Income Housing Tax Credits. He says, if the proposal is not approved in this round of funding, they would have to apply again for the project to go forward.

Several other groups in the neighborhood are applying for this funding as well. An article in the January 22, Plain Dealer, titled “Groups, companies back funding”, says a coalition effort is underway to encourage the Ohio Legislature to add another $15 million per year to the Ohio Housing Trust Fund so more projects can be funded.

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