Between 1986 and 1988, the Enterprise Foundation, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, and Habitat for Humanity became interested in addressing the affordable housing need in major cities throughout the country.
At the persuasion of public officials, Enterprise founder James Rouse visited Columbus while on a tour of Ohio’s three major cities, with the intent of identifying the potential for affordable housing in Ohio. Rouse was attracted by the strong sense of community in Columbus and realized the City and its citizens would be receptive to a comprehensive effort to strengthen the city through affordable, healthy homes.
Shortly thereafter, Columbus’ prominent developers, philanthropic families, and government officials initiated a campaign to raise the millions of dollars necessary to bring low-cost, high quality housing to the community. It took leadership from people like Irving and Melvin Schottenstein, who through their company M/I Homes, were already connected to real estate professionals, including Don Kelley, Robert Weiler, and Max Holzer. It was Irving Schottenstein who saw the need for affordable housing for working families, and Mel who recognized a similar need for an organized shelter system for the homeless. With the seed money raised by The Columbus Foundation, the City, the faith community, and business leaders, their visions came to fruition just one year later when an organized shelter system (Community Shelter Board) and Columbus Neighborhood Partnership (Columbus Housing Partnership, and later Homeport) were incorporated in Columbus.
Today, Homeport carries on the initiative begun by our founders to create and preserve healthy communities and improve the lives of those who live in them.