Habitat for Humanity West End homes ready to move in

Cincinnati – A few soon-to-be homeowners will move into the first homes renovated by Habitat for Humanity Greater Cincinnati in the West End.

The homes are located on Baimler Street between Findlay and Charlotte Streets. They were dedicated at a Friday party honoring the renovations that are being completed this week.

Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses, a community development company that has partnered with Habitat and The Port in this effort, owns one of the three homes on the project. CEO Alexis Kidd acknowledged that the renovations are a milestone in neighborhood leaders’ vision to revitalize the area.

“Baymiller has been a catalyst for change in our region,” Kidd said. “No doubt about it.”

Habitat said the homes were built in 1875 and have been vacant for at least a decade. The port acquired homes from a defunct community development organization in 2018, then sold two homes to Habitat for Humanity in 2019 so the organization could step in and renovate the homes, returning them to productive use. Port sold the third home to Seven Hills Neighborhood Homes in 2021 for the same purpose.

According to Habitat, the organization has spent about 18 months restoring the historic homes. Two homes with two families have already been matched. Sylvester Pollux, a restaurant worker at Over Rhine, will occupy one home. The second home will become a safe haven for Conrad, Inkosma Napier and their four children. Incosma Napier said she is looking forward to the extra security that owning their home will bring to her family. She is particularly interested in finding a way to protect her children in the event that they cannot depend on her and her husband.

“If anything happens to us, they have somewhere to go,” Napier said. “They have something they will have to call, and they won’t have to worry about the owner telling them to leave.”

While restoring historic homes, Ed Lee, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Greater Cincinnati, said the organization screened potential first-time buyers while educating them in financial literacy.

“We want to be part of the process to preserve the diversity of this community and keep it as a place for everyone to live,” he told me.

Lee and his partners at The Port and Seven Hills said the rehabilitation is bringing much needed mixed-income housing across the West End. As a result of the intervention of Habitat and Seven Hills, Baymiller Street has affordable, market-priced single-family homes.

“The West End, like many neighborhoods, needs affordable rents, and it needs more affordable homeownership opportunities,” said Laura Brunner, President and CEO of The Port. “But it also needs market-rate rents and market-rate home ownership opportunities so that people can stay in their neighborhood and continue to rise as they advance in their lives and careers.”

“That’s what we want to see in our neighborhood,” Kidd said. “There’s a place for all of us here and I think Baymiller is talking about that…”

Sylvester Pollux, who lives with a disability, said he hopes to inspire his way into other home ownership.

“I kind of hope that if people see that other people like me are doing better, they will want to do better themselves,” Pollux said. “I believe that if you build the community, the community will come together to take care of each other.”

Incoming residents say they are still in the process of closing these homes and are waiting for their relocation dates.

Monique John covers improvement at WCPO 9. It is part of our reporting for the donor-supported journalism program Report for America. Read more about RFA here.

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