Level With Us

Meet Khadija Ahmed

She is like any parent and wants the best for her children.  But life has thrown a lot of challenges her way - - like war.  As a result, Khadija was forced to live in a Somali refugee camp in Kenya.

When she and her family moved to Ohio and joined Homeport’s Emerald Glen community 12 years ago, they finally felt at home.  The many programs and services provided by Homeport have helped them to succeed where they live.  Khadija and her children feel better prepared to face everyday challenges.  They have developed a sense of pride for the community and appreciate the impact of giving back. 

EMH&T donates computers for communities

The halls at the Homeport main office were recently overtaken by 28 desktop computers. Longtime partner EMH&T made the generous donation, which will help more of our residents become connected to online resources.

A crew of volunteers have been hard at work updating the computers and getting them ready for their new owners. In the coming weeks, we will move the computers to seven of our communities — four per site.  The computers will be given to kids in our summer camp, who will earn the chance to be selected by meeting participation and behavior criteria. Having a computer on display at each site will remind the campers that it takes daily practice to reach long-term goals.

A big thank you to EMH&T for offering the computers to our families. We appreciate you thinking of us.

Volunteer opportunities and their impact

The ideas listed below are just a sampling of the volunteer opportunities and needs that can be found at Homeport. Opportunities range from the small to large and from one-day events to year-long projects. Homeport has opportunities that fit the needs of individuals, families, service organizations, and corporate teams.

Our Volunteer Program is currently in needed of an assistant to work directly with our Volunteer Coordinator. This person would be responsible for visiting the various sites that volunteers are currently placed at and evaluating their progress and satisfaction as a volunteer. Will also assist with various administrative needs including data entry, filing, and time tracking of volunteers service hours.

Our Home Ownership department is currently looking for general Administrative Assistance including filing, data entry, making copies, etc. . An Event Planning and Participation volunteer is also needed to assist with coordinating and overseeing community events including neighborhood clean ups and community building projects.

Our Community Life department is currently looking for Summer Camp Volunteers at five Central Ohio locations starting Mid-June. As a volunteer, you will work with children ages 5-13; participate in and develop fun, educational activities; tutor; spend time with the camp attendees; and set up and cleanup for meals and daily activities. Volunteers are needed Monday through Friday from 9:00am-3:00pm June 17th through August 9th. We offer flexible schedules for our volunteers assisting with our camps.

Our Community Life department is currently in need of someone to assist with the Creation and Updating of an Alumni Database. This person will create a database to house all former AmeriCorps members information and then will contact these members to ensure all information is up to date. Schedule is flexible within normal business hours.

If you have experience in art, we are looking for volunteers to help run our Homeport Gallery. Job duties would include greeting customers, making sales, answering questions, providing information about the exhibit, artist, and upcoming events.

We are also currently looking for various Administrative Volunteers to assist in our Operations and Housing Advisory Departments. Tasks include filing, research, event planning, creating letters and thank you notes, making phone calls, and auditing. Schedule and positions will vary based on the volunteer.

We will also have a variety of Neighborhood Clean-ups and various events occurring throughout the upcoming year. If you are interested in being notified of these, please contact us today!

Please contact our Manager of Volunteer Services, Rachel Ernst, today if any of these opportunities are of interest to you! You can contact her via email at rachel.ernst@homeportohio.org. We will also be happy to hear ideas or create specific projects for local organizations interested in giving back to the community! Please contact us if you would like any information on this! 

Homeport Home Ownership Client 2

I live in NoBo, and have lived there for about two-and-a-half years now. The reason why I chose NOBO, aside from being within reach of everything in the city, was the culture and diversity that NOBO provides that other Columbus areas just don’t seem to have. The area has a lot of cultural history to teach our current generation. But what really sold me over was the willingness and vision of CHP to combine new with old to create a spiced up neighborhood. The North Of Broad Residence Association (NOBORA) takes a lot of pride in this area . . . I would love to have people that move in this area to share that same dedication and pride. Currently, the NOBORA is working on grants to beautify our streets and help out other residents with minor home repairs. We have community clean up at least once a month, and once the weather clears you will see us out and about with our kids, walking our dogs, working in the community garden or green space.

Kelly B.

Kelly is just like any other mom - she wanted to give her kids a place to call home. One where they could go to a good school, have a yard to play in, and be part of a safe, friendly neighborhood. She gave her family just that place. But before she knew it, her home was slipping away from her and was on track to be sold at auction. That was because Kelly was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. As Kelly struggled with her disease, her obligations as a mother and as a full-time employee, her severe mood fluctuations would make it harder to manage her responsibilities. She eventually struggled to pay her mortgage payment. Kelly started to realize she needed help. She found Columbus Housing Partnership (CHP) on the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) website. “They recommended it, so I felt it was legitimate, because it wasn’t an ad or anything like that,” said Kelly. Even after coming to Columbus Housing Partnership for help, she was unable to commit. She came to the office once, but did not return. She decided to try to work out her payments by herself. She spoke to her lender and they told her she would have to pay an amount up front followed by monthly payments of $1,800 in order to stay in her home. Kelly soon found out she couldn’t make it work. “After I didn’t follow through last year, I thought that maybe there was still hope and CHP is where I could get it. “ Kelly contacted Isabel Giles, a Housing Advisor at CHP’s Homeport Housing Advisory Center, after she found out her house would be going up for a Sherriff’s Sale. Her home was set to sell on July 30th. She called Isabel on the 28th and was told what she would need to do in order to receive a stay of sale. She had the necessary paperwork signed by the judge on the 29th. However, the Sheriff’s office did not receive the paperwork on time, and the lender purchased her home. Kelly and Isabel continued to work together towards reversing the sale. Kelly complied with Isabel’s instructions and created a budget to determine what options were realistic. Isabel also helped Kelly write her hardship letter to her lender, and told her what it should contain. Kelly said that Isabel “provided step-by-step support.” Isabel became Kelly’s advocate, making phone calls daily to her lender and answering all of her “repeated” questions calmly. Kelly said, “Isabel knew what was coming next, and knew what the possible outcomes were.” And as a result, she said, “I got a really good modification, the best they could offer me. And yay, the house is in my name!”

Homeport Home Ownership Client

I live in NoBo and my home was the first or second home to be built for the development, in 2005.  As such, I have seen a lot of change in the neighborhood that other residents did not experience.  Overall, I have really enjoyed living in NOBO, and I think one of the key factors in the success of the development has been the fact that we have a very strong and active neighborhood association.  You will come to get to know your neighbors here very quickly, and that fosters a real sense of community that I think is missing in many other places.  A great example of this is the porch lighting– we make an effort for every resident to keep their porches lit at light, and we provided lights to new residents to do so.  It’s small things like this that I think make a big difference in the quality of life I have experienced here. 

The advantages are many- over and above the inherent advantages of having a new, energy efficient home that has traditional charm and  modern amenities.  First, the proximity to downtown and the interstate (both 270 and 71) is great.  I am a professor at OSU, and getting to the office is a very short drive.  Second, there are more and more cultural events taking place nearby.  The jazz in the park hosted by the King Arts Complex is a great example.  Another advantage is that we are getting more businesses in the area– we now have places where you can walk to grab a coffee or a bite to eat, and those places did not exist when I first moved here..  A huge plus is that fact that residents who have been here before NOBO are very invested in its success, we do not have the sorts of conflicts that friends of mine have experienced in other Old Town East Neighborhoods.  A big part of that is the very idea of the development, to build new houses on vacant lots rather than displacing existing residents.

Personally, I feel very safe in the neighborhood.  I walk my dog twice a day down to the Lincoln Theater when I am in town and I have done this at several times of the day and year, walking often at night.  I have always felt secure.  Although I usually park my car in my garage I have never had a problem when I have parked it on the street.  I travel a great deal for work, and there have been times I have been gone for weeks at a time– I have never once had my alarm go off or any threat of a break-in.  I thought that property damage/vandalism (say, graffiti on a garage door) would be much more of an issue than it has turned out to be.  This is not to say that things are perfect, but I don’t feel any less safe here than I do when walking through German Village or Italian Village at similar times of day.  Part of this could be due to being a resident for so long– some things that might concern a new resident may not catch my eye as I have learned that they are not the threats I thought they were in 2005 or 2006.  That, I believe, is a good thing– I have become comfortable enough in the neighborhood to be able to distinguish between appearance and reality.  While the bottom line is that you should always be aware of your surroundings and take precautions (a good thing is that we discuss these issues in the block watch meetings), you will not find yourself living “on edge” or anything like that. 

In terms of challenges, there are some, but not as many as I had expected.  As you can certainly see, there is still some blight in nearby streets, there are some people who litter.  We used to get more loitering in, say 2006 or 2007 than we do today, and I think that the neighborhood association has been key in that, and our block watch has certainly resulted in less foot traffic in the neighborhood, but there is still some.  One benefit is that we have relatively few rentals in the immediate surroundings, and we therefore have more community stability.  CHP has some rentals on 20th, and my long term hope is that those will be converted to owner-occupied housing.  I hope that the condos being planned will be successful, but there are more developments in the neighborhood now than there were in 2005, when NOBO was the only game in town, so to speak.  I think a long-term concern is that there could be over-supply of new housing and that may lead to conversion of units into rentals.  I don’t think it’s likely to happen, but it is something to think about when looking five or ten years down the road.  As a resident of 21st I think I face fewer issues than those living on 20th or 22nd, and that is simply because 21st is the heart of the development and we’re less surrounded by blight and other negatives on 21st.  I think that the best way to get a feel for the neighborhood is to drive through at different times of the day.  You’ll be unlikely to randomly encounter a resident or two (especially during the day or late at night– we’re working/sleeping then), but on a Saturday afternoon you are likely to find someone mowing the lawn, walking the dog or something similar.