Building Homes -- And Lives -- In Milo-Grogan


New Milo-Grogan resident Tomika Scott, top right, and three of her children.

 'I never thought I would have this opportunity'

Tomiko Scott’s 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shifts at OhioHealth’s Grant Medical Center can leave her a little tired some afternoons. But it’s a happy tired as she waits for her three school-age children to burst through the front door of their newly built Homeport home in Milo-Grogan.

After all, it was barely a year ago that she set out to boost her self-esteem through self-reliance   -- and simultaneously improve the quality of life of her three girls and one boy, ages 12, 11, 8 and 1.

First came enrollment in a job training program coordinated by Godman Guild. Next came a patient care job at Grant – employment that enabled her to exit public assistance programs. Now she is renting a newly constructed home on Peters Avenue one block north of East Fifth Avenue.

“I never thought I would have an opportunity to live in a brand-new home,” Ms. Scott said.

House rules on Peters Avenue.

House rules on Peters Avenue.

Her home is one of 33 being built by Homeport as part of a revitalization of a once thriving working class community north of Downtown. Construction began last fall. The first eight were completed in April, creating new homes for 20 individuals ranging from toddlers to senior citizens. The remaining 25 new homes are expected to be completed by August, all part of Homeport’s commitment to closing the gap on affordable housing in Central Ohio.

All the homes have future tenants lined up and can be purchased after they are 15 years old under guidelines of the special lease-purchase program that helped finance their construction.

Other components of the Milo-Grogan re-do include funds to rehab older homes and grants to repair buildings of businesses.

Scott’s children talk about having their own closet, ample card playing space, a basement and backyard, and two bathrooms – one more than the apartment they had on the Near East Side off Livingston Avenue.

They also speak to appreciation of their mother.

“Mommy busted her butt to get us into this house,” said Tomika Scott’s 11-year-old daughter, Izirieah. “She worked long and hard.”

Scott, a Columbus native, said the effort in becoming self-reliant and having a new home was worth it.

“It makes me feel so good because I don’t have to rely on the system,” she said.