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Broken street lamp? Blighted property? Cincinnati now has a grant program to fix that

A wall in front of a tree line is painted green with flowers and the words "Welcome to East Westwood"
Becca Costello
A new mural in East Westwood was funded in part by a Safe and Clean grant. The new Safe and Clean Acceleration Fund is adjusted to fund more ambitious projects.

Cincinnatians can now apply for a grant to help fund community-led projects for litter control and beautification. The Safe and Clean program has been re-launched as the Safe and Clean Accelerate Grant.

Council Member Greg Landsman proposed the idea last year.

"Find your community council, other leaders in your community, the blighted property that you're frustrated with, lighting that you want to happen in an alley or sidewalk, and grab the police and start working together and submit an application," Landsman said. "It will make a huge difference — as it did in the past — in dramatically reducing crime and violence."

The fund has $500,000 and there's no limit on the amount for each grant. Keep Cincinnati Beautiful is handling the applications and will be part of a committee deciding which projects to fund.

Landsman worked with the East Westwood Improvement Association (the neighborhood's community council) on the idea to bring back the program.

"This Safe and Clean Fund is going to bring people out their living rooms, off their porches and see these things get done," said Rodney Christian, EWIA president. "They're going to get busy with this. This is proven here in East Westwood. So I'm asking you all to please go back and get things done."

Unlike previous years, there is no match requirement and no $10,000 limit on each grant. City officials say they hope to see ambitious proposals.

The Safe and Clean Fund has been re-designed to focus on violence reduction. The 10 neighborhoods with the most shootings last year will be prioritized. That includes the West End, Over-the-Rhine, Walnut Hills and Avondale.

Iris Roley, consultant for the city on the Collaborative Agreement from 20 years ago, says that historic agreement has shaped the new Safe and Clean Fund.

"Let me remind you what the Collaborative Agreement is," Roley said. "It's settled lawsuits; it talks about police accountability, along with its relationship with community; but it also deals with crime and blight. This is our opportunity as a city to not feel as though you're left out, that the city has heard you, and that there is some assistance in fixing your neighborhood."

The SARA problem-solving model is a required part of the grant application. SARA was a key part of the Collaborative Agreement; the city offered free training for the model last month.

The first deadline for Safe and Clean grants is June 3. Two more application rounds are set for later this year, with deadlines on Sept. 2 and Dec. 2.

Applications are available at

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.