Homeport, Columbus To Host National Conference

Laverne Price and Alex Romstedt hold trophy Homeport has held since Columbus was awarded host city for the 2016 NeighborWorks America Community Leadership Institute.

Laverne Price and Alex Romstedt hold trophy Homeport has held since Columbus was awarded host city for the 2016 NeighborWorks America Community Leadership Institute.

Three-Day Event To Develop Skills To Enhance Communities

Homeport and Columbus will play host to more than 900 residents from every state at a special conference in late October geared to developing resident leadership skills and growing ideas to enhance communities.

The NeighborWorksAmerica Community Leadership Institute (CLI), Oct. 20-23, is a three-day event billed “Only Neighbors Can Build Neighborhoods.” Homeport is a charter member of NeighborWorks, a national community development network based in Washington.

The national event marks the first time Columbus has been the host of the CLI. Eight residents from Homeport’s affordable housing communities will be joining individuals from all 50 states, Washington and Puerto Rico.

NeighborWorks subsidizes the majority of the travel, learning and food expenses. In some cases, attendees will be traveling like never before.

City of Columbus was added to the torch passed on to hosts of the NeighborWorks CLI.

City of Columbus was added to the torch passed on to hosts of the NeighborWorks CLI.

“This is a unique opportunity for residents living in affordable housing to visit a new city, to network with other likeminded community leaders,” said Alex Romstedt, Homeport’s Director of Community Life Partners.

The Greater Columbus Convention Center is where most classes will occur for the Community Leadership Institute. Multiple off-site locations offer backdrops for learning as well, like Homeport’s North of Broad revitalization in the King Lincoln District.

Other “mobile learning lab” opportunities include a behind the scenes look at the Historic North Market and a trip to learn about Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s commitment to revitalization.

It is the ninth national NeighborWorks conference geared to growing community leadership and ideas. Columbus was chosen as host for a variety of reasons, said Yvette Williams, NeighborWorks’ chief organizer of the Leadership Institute.

“Columbus is a convention friendly city – large enough to host a conference for 1,000 participants, 700 hotel guest rooms per night,” Williams said.

Homeport has also had a number of successes that residents of 110 visiting communities can learn from, said NeighborWorks spokesman William Caplan.

Romstedt agreed with Caplan’s assessment.

“We can expect to raise Homeport’s profile in the community, which will hopefully open doors to future development opportunities in the Central Ohio area and beyond,” Romstedt said. “Our organization has done some truly amazing work over the last 30 years and we are looking to do even more in the next 30.” 

Homeport’s Senior Director of Resource Development Laverne Price, Homeport’s lead employee for the event, said she is hopeful that attendees will learn the teamwork necessary to accomplish change.

“It will affirm that no one person can tackle the task of providing safe, decent and affordable housing on their own, that it is a collective effort for all of us to continue to cultivate relationships locally and nationally,” Price said.

Among those scheduled to address the attendees will be Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. Mayor Ginther created a Department of Neighborhoods shortly after he took office in 2016.