Home owner Joanne Booker.

Joanne Booker (second from left), the owner of the home, has lived in Avondale her entire life and spent the past 11 years in this house. The Booker family says their favorite part of living in Avondale is watching the neighborhood change, grow and develop. Ken Moore (right), ACDC, explains how the AHIP program is making homes safer.  

On the streets surrounding Rockdale Academy, an elementary school in the heart of Avondale, you can see beautiful old houses in need of more than a little TLC. 

The Avondale Home Improvement Program (AHIP), launched in 2014, is helping preserve these homes, while improving the health and safety of the children and families who live in them. 

Thanks to an innovative partnership of Cincinnati Children’s, Uptown Consortium and the Avondale Comprehensive Development Corporation (ACDC) families who live on designated streets near Rockdale Academy are eligible for forgivable home loans − giving them resources to improve their homes and their quality of life. 

Families can apply to AHIP for an interest-free home improvement loan of up to $35,000. Loan recipients make no payments for five years. If they stay in their homes for five years, the loan is forgiven. 

Investing in the Community 

AHIP began with a $250,000 contribution from Cincinnati Children’s. Loan applications are taken by ACDC, and the loans are managed by the Uptown Consortium. Ken Moore, real estate and community development manager for ACDC, says AHIP provides tangible evidence of progress strengthening Avondale. “The direct impact is very visible for people who live here in critical to the strategy of drawing new investment into the neighborhood.” 

The AHIP program is projected to impact seven homes as part of phase one of the project. 

“You improve the home, and first of all it provides a better environment for kids. Then secondly, it helps the parents retain value in the home, and helps support and solidify their homeownership position,” says Beth Robinson, president and CEO of the Uptown Consortium. 

A Makeover for Home and Neighborhood 

The two houses where repairs are completed sit side-by-side on their street. In one of the homes, a six-foot-tall aluminum fence now replaces an old chain link fence. Children playing in the yard are safer, since their balls can’t go over the fence into the street anymore. 

The home use to have porch steps that Ozie Davis III, ACDC executive director, describes as “an injury waiting to happen.” Now the railings are secure and new steps lead to a new, secure front door. A water-damaged wall was replaced. There are new windows, gutters, downspouts and roof shingles. And to top it off, the house has a fresh coat of paint. The home is beautiful − and far safer. As Davis surveys the neighborhood around Rockdale Academy now, he says, “From the two homes that we’ve done, you can see the opportunity.”