Positioning Homeport For The Next 30 Years … And More
By Bruce Luecke
Since officially becoming President & CEO of Homeport late last year, I have made it clear we should celebrate our successes since 1987 -- and position ourselves to be relevant and vital at least another 30 years into the future.
The affordable housing that Homeport provides to families is critically important for job stability, educational success for children, healthy lives and so much more.
Columbus is the largest city in the state. Franklin has replaced Cuyahoga as the most populated county in Ohio. Yet in our growing market, the rate of poverty growth has tripled the population growth; rents are growing at twice the rate of income growth.
Complicating the challenge is uncertainty in the future of important programs such as the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, Community Development Block Grants and other critical tools that are successfully used to address the problem. However, even with these programs, the needs are great. Now, more than ever, it is incumbent upon Homeport to control its own destiny and find creative ways to meet the market need and grow our organization.
Against that backdrop, Homeport has set itself on a strategic path we believe will help us be a leader in addressing the 54,000-resident affordable housing shortfall expected over the next decade in Central Ohio.
This past year, with oversight from The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business Professor Dr. Tony Rucci, our organization created a 5-point strategic plan to carry us into the future.
The goals include:
- Closing the housing gap by adding at least 250 residents annually to the affordable rolls via home sales, lease-option purchases and development of rental apartments.
- Being “laser focused” in resident services, including adding new partners who are specialists. (National Church Residences has just begun overseeing delivery of medical health, food and other services in our senior communities. Homeport has significantly expanded its educational programs and anti-drug messaging for our children working together with partner organizations.)
- Growing partnerships and increasing our philanthropy efforts to fuel the growth of housing and resident services.
- 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.
Since 1987 we have been fortunate to have tremendous organizational supporters. From the very outset that list has included the City of Columbus, Columbus Realtors, Enterprise Community Partners, The Robert Weiler Company, Donald W. Kelley & Associates, M/I Homes and The Columbus Foundation.
I would like to make a special mention of the Foundation, which, for decades, significantly helped in defraying operational costs of Homeport back in the days of when we were Columbus Housing Partnership.
The Foundation’s support expanded in fall 2014 with its Gifts of Kindness program that to date has provided $188,487 to 130 of our residents, helping stabilize them through assistance for rent and utilities due to unexpected medical bills, job loss or even car repairs.
In 2015, Homeport became the beneficiary of a below market interest loan from the Foundation known as a Program Related Investment. The $3.3 million mortgage refinance on Homeport’s Marsh Run apartments should produce more than $750,000 in savings over the next decade – savings that can help us expand programs and services for our families. Additionally, we will be using a portion of that refinanced loan to reinvest back in the property.
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. We were extremely thrilled on March 20 when the Foundation named us a Top 5 Non-Profit to Watch in 2017.