Rosemary’s Babies Co. has purchased Rupel House, a 6,400-square-foot North Avondale mansion to be transformed into a multi-use facility for teen parent families — a first for the Greater Cincinnati region and a project overcoming steep challenges.
“The process made our organization level up and forced me to transform into a better CEO,” said Rosemary Oglesby-Henry, the organization’s founder and CEO. “But God, we made it and this project will come to life.”
On June 27, the The Port — which operates the Hamilton County landbank that had acquired the property in 2017 — sold the historical Samuel Hannaford property to Rosemary’s Babies after the agency raised $1 million for the acquisition and beginning renovation of the property. The agency hopes to open the home to clients before the end of 2023.
The organization recently secured $250,000 from the state of Ohio capital budget, and is planning a capital campaign to raise another $1 million for the facility and its services. The agency continues to work to overcome opposition to the home’s conversion and use from the neighborhood.
The property had been in the possession of The Port after the North Avondale Neighborhood Association was unable to manage the upkeep and taxes. The property sat blighted for several years before being stabilized in 2019.
The new building will be known as Holloway House & Resource Center. It will offer supportive housing for up to seven teen moms and their babies.
After six years of successful programming focused on helping pregnant and parenting teens, Rosemary’s Babies began in 2020 to focus on one problem it had not been able to address: the overwhelming need for stable housing for both teen parents and their babies.
“35 percent of teen parents experience homelessness,” said Oglesby-Henry. “Holloway House and Resource Center would be life changing for all involved: teen parents, their babies, and the community. RB’s investment in 3864 Reading Road would not only help to revitalize the community but could also inspire others to invest in the area. The renovation brings life to a property that has sat blighted for a decade.”
A teen mom herself, Oglesby-Henry launcehd Rosemary’s Babies to help teen parents master the concepts of personal leadership to leave a legacy, break the cycle of poverty and generational pregnancy and become productive members of the community.
Of the 1,243 families served since the program’s launch in 2013, 100% of parents had healthy pregnancies with 0% infant mortality; 100% of parents enrolled in school, attended regularly, or received a GED; 100% of parents increase their ability to support their child’s development; 100% of program participants gained access to appropriate healthcare including mental healthcare; and 99.96% of teen parents reported no intended repeat pregnancies.
The Holloway House will have eight bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, indoor and outdoor play areas, a state-of-the-art tech lab, multi-use work areas, a lactation room and a wellness area, all partly subsidized by three private offices for lease. Ten new jobs will be created, with additional opportunities for contract positions pre- and post- renovation.
Oglesby-Henry understands firsthand the stress of being housing insecure. She found herself housing-insecure with her baby at 17 years old. Oglesby-Henry gives thanks to her grandmother, Rose, for which the property will be named, for using her home as a beacon for her as a young mom.
“My grandmother died in 2020 at 93 years old, but until she was laid to rest her doors on Holloway Avenue were home to vagrants, family, and any person that was both deserving and sometimes
not,” said Oglesby-Henry.
The organization chose the Avondale neighborhood, where Oglesby-Henry was born and raised, based on the need as almost 30% of the teen parents it served were from the community.
Even with more than 100 letters of support from the community, opposition still exists from a few North Avondale residents from the North Avondale Neighborhood Association and the North Avondale Business Association, who were adamant that the facility will not enhance their business district and does not align with the strategic plan for the community.
“Having a child at a young age should not be a life sentence to poverty,” said Oglesby-Henry. “Neither should your zip code. Every child deserves housing, support, and an opportunity to blossom. An opportunity to change their outlook.”