"Homeport is in the 'people business.' Real estate and services are merely the platform that we use."
The year 2016 was a year of change at Homeport, most notably the development of a new strategic plan, greater financial discipline leading to a stronger capital base, and a fresh look at our culture – all needed to propel the organization for years to come.
This work couldn’t have been accomplished without the great work of our board, staff and business partners. I’d also like to give special thanks to Dr. Tony Rucci, Business Professor at The Ohio State University Fisher College, and his students, for supporting our strategy work.
The 5-point strategic plan calls for:
Closing the housing gap by adding at least 250 residents annually to the affordable rolls via the development or acquisition of rental apartments, and development of new single family homes for sales or lease/purchase.
Being “laser focused” in resident services by linking our residents to a network of social service experts such as National Church Residences for our seniors, the United Way’s Care Coordination Network and dozens more, servicing our youth and families.
Building and sustaining mutually beneficial partnerships, including focused philanthropy, to leverage our ability to meet the needs of the market we serve.
Promoting a high-performance culture that will financially sustain our organization and enhance the satisfaction and personal growth of our employees.
Adopting a branding strategy to increase awareness of the job we are doing, enhance our ability to meet philanthropic goals and solidify our position as a leader in the affordable housing market.
At the end of the initial planning process in September 2016, the Homeport’s Board of Directors offered me the chance to remove “interim” from my title which I gladly accepted. As President & CEO I hope to draw on the talents and passion of the Homeport staff, and our partners as we celebrate our 30th anniversary. I am confident we will continue to make a much-needed impact in our community for decades.
Homeport is in the “people business.” Real estate and services are merely the platform that we use. Our mission is building dignity, security and opportunity through quality affordable homes and strong communities. And, as you review this 2016 Annual Report, I think that you will agree with me that the true beneficiaries of our work are the 5,700 individuals that we have the honor of serving every day.
With gratitude for your support,
President & CEO, Homeport
Closing the Gap
See the impact affordable housing is making on our residents like Ms. Bettac, Ms. Marsh and Ms. Powell with our commitment to “closing the housing gap” by adding at least 250 residents annually to the affordable rolls.
For senior residents of Victorian Heritage like Linda, Homeport's major renovation - completed in 2016 - was a "Godsend". The investment improved living conditions at the historic properties and added a long-overdue elevator.
For eight months Linda Bettac and 19 of her senior neighbors -- ages 62 and up -- lived on the East Side, 11 miles from their three-story rental apartment building close to Ohio State University.
But in the final weeks of June 2016, Bettac and her neighbors happily returned to 1379 North High Street. They found new kitchen appliances, sinks, cabinets, counter tops, flooring, hall handrails, plumbing, and one very significant addition -- an elevator.
“There were completely renovated kitchens and bathrooms. All new plumbing," said Chris Caugherty, Homeport’s construction manager.
Said Bettac, a second floor resident: “I plan to be here a long while.”
James Rogers, another second floor resident, agreed. “It’s just awesome. The elevator is a Godsend because I have had both knees replaced.”
The move-in on North High marked the final phase of a $9 million, three-site historic rehabilitation initiative by Homeport. Homeport purchased the properties in 2014 from Townhomes Management and rebranded it “Victorian Heritage.”
“The goal was to keep moderate-income residents in emerging neighborhoods near OSU,” said Homeport President/CEO Bruce Luecke.
As May closed out, Homeport completed renovations and upgrades on 17 two-story, two-bedroom apartments on Fifth Avenue and Hamlet Street just east of Summit Street.
The buildings – constructed in 1909 – are at the southern border of Weinland Park, an area in which the city of Columbus and OSU have invested heavily to revitalize.
In December, beginning Christmas Eve, eight families returned to two two-story 115-year-old brick buildings west of High Street at Clark and Dennison avenues near the Short North.
And now the third phase is complete on a 1951 built, North High Street brick building with 34 one-bedroom apartments.
In the process of rehabbing all the buildings of Victorian Heritage, Homeport was able to receive historic designations for the properties. The designations resulted in additional construction funds.
The 40 improvements at the North High property by Homeport will keep federally subsidized housing residents in place not far from new “luxury” four-bedroom apartments being leased for $2,900 a month on King Avenue.
The revitalized Homeport property on North High is appreciated for a number of reasons, residents there say, and the property manager, Townhomes Management, does not expect there to be a problem leasing 14 apartments not currently rented.
The property is on a COTA bus line, across from Campus Laundry and a Dollar Store, within a short walk of a large and modern Kroger, and a block from Hungry Howie’s pizza shop and other restaurants. A new Columbus Metropolitan Library branch is now open on the same side of High Street.
Bettac said the return to her building – while not the same unit – is a homecoming that is very much appreciated and a little different from others in her building: she attended schools nearby including one in Weinland Park.
“It wasn’t as awesome looking place as it is now,” Bettac said.
Hilltop Homes II
Hilltop Homes II replaced vacant lots and dilapidated properties on the west side of Columbus with spacious new homes, substantially improving not only the neighborhood, but the lifestyle and health of people like Mariah.
Mariah Marsh does her best to avoid situations that can inflame her chronic asthma.
“I have to wear a mask on the bus if I sit next to somebody who has been smoking,” said Marsh, 24. Dust mites can also create a problem, she said.
So it was a no-brainer for her to move to Hilltop Homes II. The Homeport scattered site initiative not only provides clean new homes but also is the latest addition to Homeport’s growing stock of smoke-free residences.
Marsh is one of 39 families to have moved into Hilltop Homes II in 2016. Thanks to a moderate winter, the 39 homes built on the West Side came on-line, on-schedule.
Every resident in the Hilltop Homes II brings a different story. Often it involves a space to call your own. In fact, the amount of space provided is a key driver for those moving in so far.
Thirty-five of the 39 homes are the “Elizabeth” model, a 2-story, 3-bedroom 1 1/2 bath home with full basement and a detached two car garage.
Four of the properties are the “Westminster” model. It is a one story, 3-bedroom, two full bath home with a two-car detached garage. Both models are approximately 1,400 square feet. “I love the house. The house is amazing,” said Erica Woods, who moved from Bexley with her four children. “It’s very spacious for my kids.” The first Hilltop Homes II resident was Qua-Shonda Cattling. She moved to the 200 block of Warren Avenue on Feb. 11, 2016.
“The experience has been cool,” said Cattling, and friends visiting have complimented her on the move from the Far East Side of Columbus.
Cattling, 27, said the move for her and her eight-year-old son Glenn is more than a home but a process for improvement. Next up: “my goal is to find me a good paying job.” She also envisions purchasing the home, one day.
“If I last 15 years in this house I can purchase it,” Cattling said.
Low Income Housing Tax Credit financing of the homes requires that they be rented for 15 years before being eligible for purchase. Income for a family of four cannot exceed 60 percent of the median income for Columbus, which was $42,000 in 2014.
The lots Homeport and its development partner, Homes on the Hill, constructed on, are between, north to south, West Broad Street and Freemont Street, Logan Street, Pervience Street and Hope Place, and east to west, Midland and Harris avenues.
Most of the properties in Hilltop Homes II were purchased from Columbus Land Bank and Franklin County Land Bank. The goal of Hilltop Homes II is to revitalize an older neighborhood with a colorful history by providing quality, affordable homes.
“Not only do we hope families will find these new homes as a catalyst for their own lives, but also as a catalyst to spur additional opportunities and investment within the neighborhood,” said Justin Metzler, the project manager for Homeport.
“We’re anxious to see the positive impact this project will have on the neighborhood,” Metzler added.
Framingham Village resident Linda found the Homeport property offered a great place to raise a family, just as she'd hoped. But what she hadn't expected was the path it provided to the pride and benefits of homeownership.
When Linda Powell moved into Framingham Village in 1998, she was not envisioning herself as a potential homeowner; she was simply a Mom happy to be living in an affordable, newly-constructed home to raise her boys.
Fifteen years passed and Powell became eligible to purchase the three-bedroom, 1 ½ bath home owned by Homeport. But it took a while – an additional three years – to buy into the idea and to take the courses to educate herself on how to successfully transition from renter to homeowner.
On the last day of 2016, with encouragement from her pastor and now adult children, as well as Homeport, she pulled the trigger on the deal.
“You can do anything when you put your mind to it,” Powell said.
Not everyone is ready for homeownership, but Homeport’s vision is to empower its residents to dream and shape their future. The lease option program is part of that vision Homeport offers the potential buyers the individual counseling and courses needed to make for a successful transformation from renter to owner. They learn credit scores, financial fitness tips and are taught the responsibilities that come with home ownership.
At purchase, Homeport replaces the roof, furnace and water heater to minimize the large capital repairs the new homebuyer will experience in the first five years of ownership. The price of the home is also reduced $1,000 for every year the resident has lived in the home
Homeport has 488 homes in its lease option portfolio, though most have yet to reach the 15-year requirement. Framingham Village residents became eligible to purchase their homes in 2013 and 12 out of 22 have been sold and three more are in contract.
“It was one of the most emotional closings I have had, for me, and the lender (Park National Bank),” said Homeport Lease Option Program Manager Brenda Moncrief. “We were so proud of Linda realizing the American Dream of owning her own home.”
Powell said Moncrief was encouraging. “She said, ‘Please don’t pass this opportunity.’ She talked me through it, what I needed to do to qualify.”
The two-story home with a full basement was purchased for $86,000. But there was much work by Powell to prepare for the actual transfer of the property.
She took Homeport Housing Advisory Services courses in exterior and interior home maintenance, lawn care, financial fitness and homebuyer education, all part of the lease-option program to ensure success as a homeowner.
Being a homeowner brings stability and a sense of pride, Powell said.
“My family was happy for me. My boys were raised in this home and were happy for me. And so was my pastor,” Powell said. The pastor echoed Moncrief’s comment: “Please don’t let this opportunity pass you by.”
And she didn’t.
“I’m here. This is mine. It’s a big dream,” said Powell. “I thank Homeport and (property management company) Wallick for allowing me to stay and be a renter and giving me an opportunity to advance. I’m just a little old country girl from Louisville, Ky., who never thought she would be a homeowner.”
In addition to Framingham Village, 33 residents in Kingsford Homes on the city’s West Side were eligible in 2016 to purchase homes they have been renting for up to 15 years.
In 2018, 39 families of Southeast Columbus Homes will be eligible to purchase the homes they are living in. Homeport has scheduled a Lease Option Kick-Off meeting for Southeast residents on March 23 at the Community Properties of Ohio (CPO) training facility, 933 E. Gay Street.
Homeport is committed to building and sustaining mutually beneficial partnerships, including focused philanthropy, to leverage the strengths of local organizations towards Homeport's mission. The following stories highlight ways OSU, Capital University and The Columbus Foundation came alongside Homeport to meet critical needs in Central Ohio.
The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business
Creating a new strategic plan is a daunting task. Thanks to Ohio State, Homeport was able to tap into the expertise of a Fisher College of Business professor with an impressive corporate resume who, along with four bright business students, helped crystallize the path forward.
Dr. Tony Rucci
Homeport was at a critical juncture at the start of 2016, transitioning from long-time leadership and in need of an updated business model in the post-Great Recession era.
Based on a recommendation from M/I Homes President & CEO Robert Schottenstein, whose father Irving was a founder of Homeport, the organization approached Ohio State University business professor Tony Rucci.
Dr. Rucci, a business and academic success, accepted the call for help, and, as the saying goes, the rest is history.
“We got exceptional support, direction and research from Tony and his students. He helped us create a very focused plan that was actionable, and accountable, yet simple to understand. That is a big task,” said Homeport Chief Strategy Officer Craig Murphy.
From February to September 2016, Rucci and four of his OSU students helped Homeport establish a strategic plan eventually approved by Homeport’s Board of Directors.
“He engaged staff and partners and created a story line of where our competencies lie and how we should move forward,” Murphy said. “It provided clarity on meeting our clients’ needs.”
Rucci said his participation did not require a hard sell from Homeport.
“I left Corporate America 12 years ago at the height of my professional career. I always wanted to come back to academia, to teach, but in the latter part of my career I also wanted to give back to nonprofit organizations like Homeport,” Rucci said. “The last year eight years I have had 25 pro-bono clients. It is important to take what you learned and give back.”
Rucci’s students -- Anna Klatt, Christopher Buehler, Holly Norton and Susan Ferger -- received a stipend and lots of experience.
“I always recruit students from the Masters in Business Administration program,” Rucci said. “It’s a win-win. The organization gets very bright people to work on the project. The students get responsibility of an agenda, research, facilitating meetings. It is real time consulting experience.”
Anna Klatt, one of Rucci’s students, agreed.
“Working with Homeport directly impacted my job search, post-graduation. I was determined to find a company that lives and breathes its mission every day to change the lives of those it serves," said Klatt, a product development researcher at Columbus-based healthcare technology company CoverMyMeds.
Holly Norton, another of Rucci’s students, said the strategic planning opportunity at Homeport was directional as she builds her part time consulting business while rowing for the British National Team.
“The staff I interacted with were from various levels, and each of them had innovative and exciting ideas regarding the core purpose of Homeport,” Norton said. “My extremely positive experience at Homeport solidified my desire to continue down the route of business consulting.”
Rucci said a strategic plan must be developed with and have buy-in from the organization’s employees. It must be designed with clear lines leading to individuals responsible for its execution.
“Keep it simple, have it fit on a single sheet of paper. It should project 3-4-5 years out. There should be objectives, people assigned to it. That is the notion of accountability. There is no 3- inch, three-ring notebook with 400 pages of schedules. Every quarter we bring that one page to the (organization’s) Board and ask, ‘How we doing?’”
Homeport’s strategic plan calls for:
Closing the housing gap by adding at least 250 residents annually to the affordable rolls via the development or acquisition of rental apartments, and development of new single family homes for sales or lease/purchase.
Being “laser focused” in resident services by Homeport residents to a network of social service experts such as National Church Residences for seniors, the United Way’s Care Coordination Network and dozens more.
Building and sustaining mutually beneficial partnerships, including focused philanthropy, to leverage the organization’s ability to meet the needs of the market it serves.
Promoting a high-performance culture that will financially sustain Homeport and enhance the satisfaction and personal growth of its employees.
A fifth goal set aside for 2017 was adopting a branding strategy based on the four other strategies.
“We were an objective third party to make Homeport more successful and that translates to having more affordable housing for people,” Rucci said.
Keeping Homeport focused on what it does best was the critical strategic planning process outcome for the organization in helping meet the community’s affordable and safe housing needs, Rucci said.
“The housing world imploded in 2008 and only recently has it turned around,” Rucci said. “Homeport is a rowboat in that ocean. How does an organization like Homeport survive the worst housing environment since The Depression? Through a clear set of goals and accountability.
“We have tens of thousands of Central Ohio residents who need homes, families needing a safe place to live to enhance their children’s environment and build self-esteem. If [Homeport] keeps that in the center of its bullseye it will succeed. I think we achieved that direction for Homeport. We got this crystal clarity why Homeport exists.”
Students at Capital University make it their mission to "live lives of service", making weekly visits to Homeport's Marsh Run community and providing much-needed one-on-one mentoring and homework help for children.
Capital Students Tutoring at Marsh Run
Students Mariah Mills and Nicole Austin hopped a bus to begin the trip to Homeport’s Marsh Run apartment community, and once there walked in the rain to participate in after school tutoring and mentoring.
But the two students don’t live in Marsh Run. Rather, they and six other first-year Education majors from Capital University in Bexley are helping children near Eastland learn to read, make sentences, absorb poetry and solve math.
The Capital students also gave the Marsh Run children the confidence to share thoughts about school or life in general.
Homeport is continuing to expand its list of tutors and after school workers and partners, the most recent addition being faith-based tutors arranged through Ohio’s Community Connectors program.
The Capital students, however, provided a special benefit, said Morgen Wade, Homeport’s Manager of Volunteer Engagement.
“With college kids, there is a near-peer relationship that can enhance the mentoring experience. They are not a parent or authority figure but they can still be good models,” Wade said.
It is the fifth year Capital has provided students for tutoring and mentoring in Homeport communities, though the first time it is all first-year students. The student-mentor relationships bloomed quickly after the initial encounters in the Marsh Run community center.
“The first week, you don’t know what to expect,” said Dr. Cheryl DoBroka, Associate Professor of Education at Capital. The second week, the college kids have bonded with the community students. “They can’t wait to come back. Children steal your hearts,” DoBroka said.
There are challenges for sure in the process. For example, Galeah, a first grader from Marsh, struggled when asked to look at a homework exercise.
“I don’t want to read it,” she told Mills, the first-year honors college student from Brookville near Dayton. Galeah was then distracted by children outside the community center. She jumped up from her chair and pushed down on the slats covering the window.
Mills asserted herself, though. “It’s just kids. It’s OK,” she calmly told Galeah. Before long they made significant impact on the English exercises.
Homeport youth development coordinator Mark Childs and two representatives of Homeport partner Columbus Area Integrated Health Service normally serve the children of Marsh Run. But a ratio of 10 students to one counselor can be daunting.
The children want help and crave attention and somebody to talk to, said Precious Milton, a counselor with Columbus Area. “The kids need the one-on-one,” Milton said of the impact provided by the Capital students.
DoBroka, the college professor, said Capital chose first year students hoping to create long term interest in the children of Homeport. It was also thought that if the students were in it long term, they could help recruit others to participate in the mentoring and tutoring.
As for her students catching a COTA bus on East Main Street, with a transfer at James Road, DoBroka credits Homeport’s Wade. Wade thought it would add to the Capital students experience to understand transportation challenges faced by some Marsh Run parents.
DoBroka said in the end, the initiative is a win-win for her students and the children of Homeport. “Service is who we are at Capital. Our mission challenges our students to live lives of service.”
The Columbus Foundation
In 2016, The Columbus Foundation made a strategic investment in Homeport's mission by refinancing property debt, freeing up hundreds of thousands of dollars to improve homes, increase programs, and lift up families.
Columbus Foundation Supports
Better Homes, Better Programs
From its inception, Homeport and the community it serves has benefited from its partnership with The Columbus Foundation. And 2016 was no different, with the Foundation enabling debt reduction on Homeport properties and providing funds to prevent evictions and utility shut offs.
“It is heartening to know that the Foundation has supported our mission, residents and the community for 30 years, and continues to see our value and potential,” said Homeport President & CEO Bruce Luecke.
Homeport, for almost two decades when it was Columbus Neighborhood Partnership, and then Columbus Housing Partnership, benefited from Foundation grants that significantly defrayed its operational costs in providing affordable and workforce housing.
More recently, a $3.3 million mortgage refinance for Homeport by the Foundation has begun to produce a savings that could total $250,000 over a decade, freeing cash for programs and services.
The special loan reduced from 6.5 to 3 percent a mortgage on Homeport’s Marsh Run apartments properties, making immediately available over $1 million for property capital improvements.
Some of the savings have helped Homeport service coordinators to take a deeper dive into the needs of its residents including eviction prevention, education, employment, furniture assistance, health and food.
Similarly, Homeport continues to participate in the Foundation’s Gifts of Kindness program established in 2014. The program helps stabilize Homeport residents facing crises brought on by unexpected medical bills, job loss or even car repairs.
The grants are expected to be in the $500 to $3,000 range, but vary depending on the need and circumstance, be it back rent or utility bills. In 2016, Homeport had 44 applications approved for a total of $79,499.
“While there are local organizations that do provide financial support for these very situations, they often cannot meet the demand of all those families living on the verge of homelessness,” said Alex Romstedt, Homeport’s Director of Resident Services. “Thankfully the Foundation’s Gifts of Kindness program can provide support where others cannot, which for many of our families, is the only thing keeping them from living on the streets.”
Keeping a Laser Focus on Clients
Our commitment to being “laser focused” in resident services by linking our residents to a network of social service experts is paying off. See the impact we made in 2016 with partners like OCCH, Franklin County and Columbus Department of Health.
Excursions for Children
Thanks to a generous grant through the Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing, hundreds of Homeport children benefited from exciting, mind-broadening outings in partnership with Columbus Area Integrated Health Services.
Enriching Children through Off-Site Excursions
Fifty-eight steps underground on a sweltering July afternoon, the temperature at Olentangy Indian Caverns was a refrigerator-cool 40 degrees. Condensation glazed walls. Water randomly dripped from jagged ceilings.
And then there was the limited lighting throughout narrow passages.
“Miss Nikiah,” nine-year-old Elijah Woods called out to his summer camp counselor. “I’m scared.”
For decades the Caverns have been an attraction for Central Ohio summer campers. But for the 30 kids visiting from Homeport, it was an extraordinary learning opportunity in a summer of firsts.
Homeport, thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Ohio Capital Impact Corporation, provided almost daily excursions to distant and fun places through a partnership with Columbus Area Integrated Health Services (“Columbus Area”).
“These camps are so important to the families living in our affordable rental communities,” said Alex Romstedt, Homeport’s Director of Resident Services.
“They provide an opportunity for our kids to experience something new, like going to a nature park, or seeing downtown,” Romstedt said.
“This type of experiential learning plays a key role in child development,” he said. “And for many of them, this may be the first time they’ve ventured outside of their community, let alone the City. We feel strongly that exposure is the gateway to possibility.”
Throughout the summer of 2017 Homeport hosted 10 summer camps serving 263 children. Half are based at community centers of Homeport residential communities.
Columbus Area ran five of the excursion camps, up from one in 2015. Activities ranged from hiking, fishing or swimming at area parks, to ice-skating, a trip to Scioto Mile or visiting COSI.
Thirty children from Homeport’s Bending Brook, Emerald Glen and Trabue Crossing communities visited Olentangy Indian Caverns.
“It’s cool for the kids to be in an underground cave, to learn about the artifacts and history of the Native Indians, especially that they once lived here in their city,” said Precious Martin, a program coordinator for Columbus Area.
“They also are learning about science -- stalagmites and stalactites and things that grow in caves. It’s a fun way to learn about history, science, hands on, giving them something to see,” Martin said.
For nine-year-old Elijah Woods of Trabue Crossing, the above ground activities were more rewarding then the cavern, especially a mining experience where the children panned various colored pebbles.
“I found some gold,” Elijah shouted with excitement. “I’m going to show my Mom.”
Breaking $1M in Downpayment Assistance
Hitting $1 million in downpayment assistance was more than a milestone for Homeport; it represented hundreds of families who received training and support needed to responsibly experience the benefits of home ownership.
Imparting the Pride of Responsible Home Ownership
When Sarah Dunlap describes homeownership, she used words like “contentment,” “satisfaction” and “fulfillment.”
“Awesome” is how Troy Keathley describes it.
Each benefited from a down payment assistance loan program by Franklin County for first time homebuyers.
Future homeowners just don’t sign on for assistance, as much as $6,000 per household. They must first take approved homebuyer education courses like the one Homeport offers. After 15 years, Homeport has successfully guided 233 families -- including the Dunlaps and Keathleys -- to more than $1 million in down payment assistance loans from the county.
“We are not only helping individual families, this program is of benefit to the entire community,” said Netta Whitman, Director of Homeport Housing Advisory Services.
Appearing before the Franklin County Board of Commissioners in August 2016, Whitman said the assistance provided to individuals who graduated from Homeport homebuyer education translates to an investment of $21.8 million in home sales.
The courses are also providing long-term value to the stability of the homeowners and their neighborhoods.
“Studies have shown that clients receiving Homebuyer Education and pre-purchase counseling are one-third less likely to fall behind in their mortgage than buyers who did not receive the (counseling) support,” Whitman told the Commission.
Franklin County down payment funds have several guidelines related to geography, residency and income:
The property must be located inside Franklin County and outside the physical jurisdiction of the city of Columbus.
The property must serve as the principal residence of the borrower.
Applicants must be a first-time homebuyer or must not have owned a home in the past three years.
Applicants must earn no more than 80 percent of current HUD guidelines for the Metropolitan Columbus Service Area median income. For example, a household of four would not be able to earn more than $55,000.
The maximum loan from Franklin County is $6,000, of which $4,000 is down payment assistance and $2,000 for closing costs. It comes interest free and requires no repayments. The loan is forgiven if the recipient stays in his or her home six years.
But to be eligible for the loans, individuals must take eight hours of Homebuyer Education from Homeport or another HUD certified housing counseling agency.
The homebuyer education courses taught by Homeport are offered on weekends. The class – two, four-hour classes on weekends – introduces potential homebuyers to the key professionals in a potential purchase including lenders, Realtors, home inspectors and title company representatives.
The end result of the process is what counts, graduates of Homeport’s homebuyer course say.
“Coming home every day to a beautiful home that is mine is a feeling of contentment, satisfaction and fulfillment,” said Dunlap about the Woodland Avenue residence home she shares with her husband and two sons. “I am so grateful for what Homeport did for my family and me.”
Putting residents first was the goal in implementing Homeport's award-winning "smoke-free" policy. Thanks to strong policies combined with support for residents seeking to quit, Homeport's communities are healthier than ever.
Putting Resident Health First with Smoke-Free Homes
Homeport has gone “platinum.”
In recognition of its “smoke-free” policy at rental apartments and homes, Homeport received the top award from the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) tobacco prevention program.
“It is really good that you have created a comprehensive policy that protects all the residents,” said Mandy Burkett, Director of the Tobacco Program within the ODH’s Bureau of Health Promotion.
Homeport and four other housing entities in Ohio received the platinum or top award in spring of 2016. ODH also selects, gold, silver and bronze level recipients.
The “Platinum Honor” is provided by ODH to a property owner, company/public entity or non-profit organization with a written smoke-free policy. The key ingredients:
No “grandfathering clauses.”
Prohibiting smoking in all units in a building or the grounds of the building.
No designated smoking areas.
No smoking in vehicles in the parking lots or garages.
No smoking by guests, employees or vendors.
Homeport set in motion its “smoke free” policies in the fall of 2014 and today has approximately 1,200 apartment units and single-family home under the rules.
Fourteen communities for seniors and younger families have to abide by the rules and more will be coming on line. In recognition of Homeport's efforts, the Ohio Department of Health has awarded Homeport with a "platinum" level award that included a billboard on East Broad Street.
“It’s an honor and makes me want to work harder to get the rest of our properties turned over to ‘smoke free,’” said Brenda Moncrief, Homeport’s point person on the smoke free initiative. “Our initiative is grounded in our desire of creating healthy, stable communities for our residents – from seniors to children,” said Bruce Luecke, Homeport’s Interim President and CEO. “Homeport’s Asset Management team has worked hard to take this from concept to reality.”
ODH’s Burkett said the parameters established by Homeport are important because individuals smoking in their apartments can adversely affect others even when doors are closed.
“We know second hand smoke can be shared through cracks in the wall, vents,” said Burkett. “It is particularly bad for children and can result in upper respiratory problems, ear infections, and asthma attacks. It increases the risks for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome,” she said.
Adults affected by second hand smoke can suffer strokes, nasal irritations, lung cancer, heart disease and reproductive problems, Burkett said.
On May 1, 2016, residents of Homeport’s 120-unit Georges Creek apartments in Canal Winchester were told that the policy applied to them and that they had 90 days to comply.
Previous communities to fall into the smoke free rules include Trabue Crossing, Eastway Village and Eastway Court, Elim Court and Elim Manor, and Fieldstone Court. More recent additions include Victorian Heritage and Hilltop Homes II.
Homeport has a three-violations-and-you’re-out no smoking policy, and makes available outside agencies such as The Breathing Association for residents who wish to stop smoking. Only two families have chosen to leave Homeport communities rather than face eviction since the start of the policy.
Watch: Health Experts Discuss the Importance of Creating the Right Smoke-Free Policy
Promoting a High Performance Culture
Homeport employees March Childs, Jim Baugh and Leah Evans open up about their work at Homeport as we promote a high-performance culture that will financially sustain our organization and enhance the satisfaction and personal growth of our employees.
As a long-time service coordinator, Mark Childs works closely with children in Homeport's out-of-school programs, acting as an invaluable role model and mentor for kids who often have few others to turn to.
Q&A with Homeport Service Coordinator Mark Childs
Q: What are your responsibilities?
A: I am part of a team coordinating programs and special events for Homeport residents. My main responsibilities are after-school and summer programs, youth mentoring initiatives and teen programs. I work closely with our contract partners, particularly Columbus Integrated Health Services, seeking ways to enhance programming at five of our residential communities serving about 150 children.
Q: What do you like most about the organization?
What I like most about Homeport is its commitment to help our residents grow through education, awareness and exposure. As an affordable housing organization, Homeport could easily just focus on providing homes to low-moderate income families. I appreciate the organizational mission to create a healthy, stable home for all. I’m proud to say I work for an organization that gives children of all ages a fighting chance to develop and transform their lives.
Q: What have you done in your career that you are most proud of, or that people may not be aware of?
A: I received a bachelor of science degree in History from Heidelberg University in 2010, and in 2012 I received a Master’s degree in Liberal Arts from Utica College in upstate New York. While at Utica I was the school’s Assistant Coach for Cross Country and Track & Field. I was also the head academic coordinator for the track student-athletes. It was particularly challenging because it was the first year of the track program.
Since moving back to Ohio, in addition to working at Homeport, I'm also an assistant track and field coach at New Albany High School, my alma mater, where I received All-Ohio recognition for the 800 meter dash. I am also, at the request of parents, serving as a role model, mentor or “Big Brother” for area children.
Q: Favorite things I do outside of work?
A: I’m a big sport lover. I spend a lot of my free time doing something active, whether it’s adult flag football, basketball, volleyball or just biking/running. I also volunteer as a referee for various sports and train youth all year round as they prepare for life and other sports.
I am also pursuing another Master’s degree, this one in Human Services with a concentration in Non-Profit Management and Leadership. My thesis is focused on the impact of affordable housing. I've truly gained an appreciation for affordable housing organizations through my employment with Homeport.
Family is also a big part of my life. I spend a lot of time with my wife Hailee and our three kids, Jailen, Aiden and Marcy. Our favorite activities include playing video games, watching movies and just being silly.
Watch Mark Childs in Action with Children at Marsh Run
With a long history in affordable housing finance and development, Jim Baugh was brought on in 2016 to help Homeport tackle Central Ohio's housing gap and to pursue creative new approaches to building affordable homes.
Tackling the Housing Challenge Through Experience
With an eye on accelerating affordable home production in Central Ohio, Homeport hired Jim Baugh to be its new Senior Vice President of Real Estate in 2016.
Baugh brings nearly two decades of experience in overseeing development of multi-family dwellings and finding investors and investment dollars.
“Jim is an excellent match for Homeport as we strive to close the gap on affordable homes in Central Ohio,” said Homeport President & CEO Bruce Luecke.
The Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio (AHACO) has estimated 54,000 Central Ohio residents are in need of affordable housing.
From 2005 to 2011, Baugh was Vice President, Multifamily Acquisitions and Development, for National Church Residences, the largest non-profit owner of senior affordable housing in the United States. The last five years, Baugh has worked for Riverside Capital and National Equity Fund. Each company sources funding for Low Income Housing Tax Credit developments (LIHTC), the method of financing Homeport has traditionally used for building.
Because Ohio, like every state, has a ceiling on LIHTC funding, Baugh believes Homeport might look beyond traditional affordable housing mechanisms to fill the affordable housing gap, to work even more with partners to grow the number of single family homes or multi-family apartments it is building annually.
From 2012 through 2016, Homeport has been adding an average of 76 rental apartments or single-family homes per year to its portfolio.
“Homeport wants to be a real estate company, first and foremost,” Baugh said.
The demand for affordable apartments and single-family homes has only grown as Central Ohio’s desirability has grown the area’s population, he said.
Entering its 30th year, Homeport has over 5,700 residents in more than 30 apartment and single-family home communities. It helps residents with out of school programming, access to basic needs like food and furniture as well as emergency financial assistance for rent or utilities. Homeport is also a leading provider of homebuyer education, financial fitness classes and individual counseling.
Baugh has an M.B.A (Finance) from the University of Dayton and a Bachelor’s of Arts degree (Economics) from The Ohio State University.
A Cleveland-area native, Leah has become intimately acquainted with Columbus neighborhoods over the years, and today plays a vital role at Homeport in helping lift up economically neglected communities.
Q & A with Homeport's VP of Neighborhood Strategies
Q: What are your responsibilities?
A: I oversee the financing, development and implementation of Homeport’s neighborhood revitalization initiatives, including new construction and rehabilitation of for-sale single-family housing projects, owner occupied rehabilitation projects, and community beautification and improvement projects.
Q: What do you like most about the organization?
A: It gives me tremendous pride to be a part of an organization that has impacted thousands of lives over the past 30 years. Through the development of housing and the provision of services we create healthy neighborhoods and establish a foundation for strong families and individuals.
Q: What have you done in your career that you are most proud of, or that people may not be aware of?
I have a Master’s of Arts degree in City & Regional Planning from The Ohio State University and have been blessed with wonderful working experiences. Before I came to Homeport in 2013, I worked for the City of Gahanna as well as the Ohio Department of Development (now the Ohio Development Services Agency).
I am most proud of the business owners I have worked with, homeowners I’ve helped and youth I’ve tutored, mentored and coached.
One of the jobs that taught me the most was my time as a substitute teacher for Columbus City Schools. Being the new person every day, with different schools, administrators, teachers and students, I built a resilience that I think serves me to this day. You have to be grounded in what you know and your abilities to perform in that space. Being a “sub” also allowed me to visit Columbus’ many neighborhoods. Not being from Columbus (I am from Cleveland Heights) it was a great opportunity to learn more about the fabric of this City and the communities that make it unique.
Q: Favorite things I do outside of work?
A: I love spending time with family and friends in Columbus and Cleveland (Go Cavs!) Exercising is a passion — for over 15 years I have been a group exercise instructor. Reading is a favorite hobby. I have been a member of the Rose Petals Book Club for over 10 years. I prefer mysteries.
Thank you 2016 Donors!
Affordable Housing Trust for Columbus & Franklin County
Accetta, Suzanne R.
American Electric Power (AEP)
Armstrong, Michael A.
Armstrong , Arlene
Arnold, J.D., George
Bank of America
Barbara Poppe and Associates
Barkan Meizlish, LLP
Barkley , Dawn
Barkley, Jr., Robert
BB & T Bank
Berardi & Associates
Bird Long, Sherry
Bosc & Brie Catering
Boys and Gilrs Club of Columbus
Brachman , Lavea
Brady Ware & Company
Buchenroth, Stephen R.
Byers & Minton
Casper, Joshua L.
Caugherty, Christopher J.
Columbus Commercial Industrial Investmemnt Realtors (CCIIR)
City of Columbus
Citywide Area Learning center (Citywide ALC)
Clark, Sherri L.
Clark Schaefer Hackett & Co.
Coffelt, Deborah A.
Collins, Stanley E.
Columbia Gas of Ohio
Columbus Area Integrated Health Services Inc.
Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA)
Columbus Next Generation Corporation
Commercial Works, Inc.
Community Development Collaborative of Greater Columbus
Cornerstone Capital Corporattion
Crabbe, Brown & James, LLP
Dollar General Foundation
Donald W. Kelly + Associates
Doyle- Hostutler, Wendy
Duffey , Mary
Economic & Community Development Institute (ECDI)
El Hosseiny, Taymour
Ellis , Cole
Enterprise Community Partners
Envision Cleaning Serives
Fifth Third Bank
Fifth Third Bank Foundation
First Merit Bank
First Merit Foundation
Ford , Guy
Freeman , Valerie
Frost, Brown, Todd, LLC
Fuller McDonough, Susan
Gainer, Arnisha R.
Goldbach, Lawrence D.
Greater Columbus Community Helping Hands, Inc.
Green , Scott
Hague , Joseph
Hale, Layden R.
Hale , Connie
Half Price Books
Harry C. Moores Foundation
Hartgrove , Rogenia
Hill, Maude S.
Hoff , Justin
Housing Partnership Network
Hudson, Anne B.
Huntington National Bank
IMPACT Comminity Action Center (IMPACT)
Ingram White Castle Foundation
Isaacson, Patricia P.
John Gerlach & Co
Jones , Michael
JP Morgan Chase & Co
JP Morgan Chase Foundation
Jump Goat Media
Junior Library Guild
Kayne Law Group
Kegler Brown Hill & Ritter
Kindron , Thomas
L Brands Foundation
Land and Mortgage Title Agency, Ltd.
Lapp, Joshua R.
Lehner , William
Lowenstein , Roy
Luecke , Bruce
Lund , Melanie
Making a Difference
Martin, Joshua D.
Martin, Katelynn E.
Martin , Zachary
Matt Reese Photography
Minklei, Lisa A.
Mitchell, Jermaine C.
Momentum Strategy Group
Mt. Carmel Health System
Murele , Adenike
Murphy, Craig F.
Nationwide Children's Hospital
Neikirk , Sara
Neilsen, Ethan D.
New Salem Church
Norris Matthews, Deborah
O' Hara , Thomas
Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing
Ohio Capital Impact Corporation
Ohio Department of Education
Ohio Housing Finance Agency
Partner Achieving Community Transformation (PACT)
Park National Bank
Paul Werth Associates
Peters , Tracy
Price, James D.
Price, Laverne D.
Rhema Christian Center
Ruscilli Construction Co., Inc.
Safelite AutoGlass Foundation
Schwarzmann, Valorie G.
Second and Seven Foundation
Shumaker, H. Kenneth
Shumaker, Susan J.
Siemer Family Foundation
Slayman , Mark
State Auto Insurance Companies
State of Ohio--Office of Faith Based Initiatives
Sweat Law Offices
The Board of Franklin County Commissioners
The Columbus Foundation
The Crane Group
The Hadler Companies
The Kelley Companies
The Robert Weiler Company
The Title Company, LTD
Third Federal Savings & Loan
Thomas, C. Reggie
TownHomes Management, Inc.
Towns Cleaning Service
Twin Rivers Links
U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Union Savings Bank
United Way of Central Ohio
US Bank Foundation
Vorys, Sater, Seymour, and Pease LLP
Wade, Morgen R.
Weiler, Robert (Skip)
Weiler , Robert, Sr.
Wells Fargo Foundation
White, Todd R.
Whitman, Iranetta M.
William J. and Dorothy K. O'Neill Family Foundation
York, Stacy L.
Impact: 2016 by the Numbers
Get a snapshot of the entire year at Homeport, and see for yourself how your investment paid off in the lives of thousands across Central Ohio!
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Homeport is committed to transparency and strong financial stewardship.
View our 2016 audited financial statements.
Back Row, Left to Right:
Stan E. Collins, Emmett M. Kelly, Mark Pringle, Mike Lange, Paula Hughes, Thomas J. O’Hara Jr., Anthony Anzic, Kristopher “Kip” Wahlers, Julee Stephenson, Stephen R. Buchenroth
Front Row, Left to Right:
Sara Neikirk, Samantha Dye, Christy L. Hune, Michael Kelley, Hank Evans, Melissa Centers, Linda Flickinger
Sara Mark McCullough, Michael C. Mentel, Kai Monahan, Stefanie Steward-Young