GreenLight Cincinnati launches 5th local initiative

GreenLight Cincinnati is launching its fifth local initiative – this one aimed at fixing a big problem in the region’s affordable housing crisis.

The 18-year-old Boston-based nonprofit venture philanthropy fund, which began its work in Cincinnati in 2016, is leading a partnership to bring a proven initiative to Hamilton County to prevent non-payment evictions.

The Renew Collaborative was created by 25-year-old Massachusetts-based HomeStart, which is dedicated to ending homelessness by assisting individuals and families in obtaining and stabilizing their housing situations by developing strategies to prevent homelessness before it starts. 

GreenLight identifies national programs that can be expanded across its 11-city footprint and then works with local funders and other partners to bring the national ideas to its local markets.

GreenLight executive director
Clare Zlatic Blankemeyer

“We recognize this as a unique time and opportunity for Cincinnati to increase local, cross-sector capacity and this model was identified through our community-driven evaluation process as the most effective eviction prevention program in the country.” said Clare Zlatic Blankemeyer, executive director of GreenLight Fund Cincinnati.

The Renew Collaborative will expand the capacity of a team at United Way of Greater Cincinnati to keep families housed at Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority. The collaborative will help tenants facing eviction develop a financial blueprint to pay back a portion of their debt while keeping current on rent payments.

CHMA’s Gregory D. Johnson, Greenlight’s Clare Zlatic Blankemeyer, Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval_ Greenlight consultant Lashonda Raines, HomeStart’s Kelly Mulligan and Maggie Howard, United Way’s Moira Weir, Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Pavan Parikh

Non-payment is the most common cause of eviction in Hamilton County – causing trauma, interrupting employment and impacting children’s learning, health and mental health. Before the pandemic, the local eviction filing rate was higher than the national average and is steadily rising back to pre-pandemic levels due in part to the end of federal COVID emergency rental assistance.

The collaborative is expanding nationally and identified Cincinnati as an important expansion region. In the next four years, the Renew Collaborative will scale up to preserve tenancies in 300 households in CMHA while also exploring expansion with other large-scale property owners. It is anticipated that a minimum of 90% of families will retain their housing after three years due to Renew Collaborative’s ongoing support services for renters who faced eviction.

The Renew Collaborative was created by HomeStart because the expense of a property owner executing a non-payment eviction is three to five times more costly than the expense of stopping the eviction and keeping the tenant housed. The cost-benefit of eviction prevention is so compelling that property owners can save money by financially supporting the Renew Collaborative eviction prevention program. The cost savings have been calculated at over $16 million to property owners since 2008 in other cities.

GreenLight Fund Cincinnati identified the benefit of expanding the Renew Collaborative to Hamilton County after conducted a rigorous, year-long selection effort to find an initiative with a proven track record of preserving tenancies while also unlocking new financial resources for a major issue that is much larger than any private or public funding could support alone.

Renew joins GreenLight Cincinnati’s four other portfolio organizations: 

  • Center for Employment Opportunities;
  • UpTogether (formerly Family Independence Initiative;
  • First Place for Youth’s My First Place program at NewPath; 
  • The Literacy Lab’s Leading Men Fellowship.

The HomeStart Renew Collaborative is funded by GreenLight Fund Cincinnati and Fifth Third Bancorp’s Jacob G. Schmidlapp Trust.

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