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Cincinnati To Receive More Than $364,000 In Grants From HUD

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Tana Weingartner
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WVXU
HUD Midwest Regional Administrator Joseph P. Galvin announces two CMHA resource opportunity centers are being designated "EnVision Centers."

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is awarding Cincinnati nearly $365,000 in grants to support area HUD programs.As part of a federal program, the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority's (CMHA) Findlater Gardens Resource Opportunities Center and the Winton Terrace Resource Opportunities Center are being designated "EnVision Centers."

The centers are designed to help connect HUD-assisted families with support services with a goal of achieving self-sufficiency. Cincinnati is among 34 communities with such centers, including Columbus, which was announced Wednesday.

"If we succeed in helping more families become self-sufficient, more families will be able to access the housing assistance they so desperately need," says HUD Regional Administrator Joseph P. Galvan.

CEO Gregory Johnson says those are key components of CMHA's mission, adding these designations are a "national confirmation that the agency is providing residents with the tools needed to increase self-sufficiency and knock down barriers."

Here's how HUD describes its EnVision Centers:

Located on or near public housing developments, EnVision Centers are centralized hubs that serve as an incubator to support four key pillars of opportunity— (1) economic empowerment, (2) educational advancement, (3) health and wellness, and (4) character and leadership.
Through results-driven partnerships with organizations such as federal agencies, state and local governments, non-profits, faith-based organizations, corporations, public housing authorities, and housing finance agencies, EnVision Centers will leverage public-private partnerships to connect HUD-assisted households with services that offer pathways to self-sufficiency.

Anese Milsap has lived in Winton Terrace since 2008 and is president of the Winton Terrace Resident Council. She thinks the EnVision Center designation will be a boon for the community because resources will come to those who maybe couldn't get to agencies like Job and Family Services otherwise.

"It's a wonderful thing because our residents will have help - like who don't have transportation to go to the places they need to go - so they'll come here and it will give people hope and help them out."

According to the agency, each location - called a "demonstration community" - designates a committee of stakeholders and residents to chose which services will be offered at the center. HUD says it will develop tools to measure success.

Service coordinators will be hired to connect residents in these two public housing authorities with existing programs and services, according to a release.

According to HUD, participants sign a five-year contract requiring the head of the household to find employment. Participating families are not allowed to receive cash welfare assistance for 12 months prior to graduating from the program. They will also establish an interest-bearing escrow account. Funds from that account may be used upon graduation for things like a home down payment.

The $364,652 grant comes from HUD's Family Self-Sufficiency Program.

Assistance For Veterans

As part of Thursday's announcement, HUD also is awarding $143,712 to CMHA, which will use the funds to help 30 veterans experiencing homelessness find permanent housing.

The HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH) helps veterans with rental assistance and VA support services. Navy veteran Earl Logan is grateful for the support he received recently when he fell on hard times.

"My spirits were very low at the time. I thought I was worthless and didn't matter to anyone," he says. "With the help of CMHA and HUD-VASH they literally took me by the hand and guided me through - because I had no idea, I had never been on my own before - to help build my self-esteem up again, give me vision to know that I am somebody, and led me to believe that I can do anything that I chose to do in life again."

Correction:  A previous version of this story and an on-air version incorrectly said the money for the HUD-VASH program came from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The funds are from HUD.