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Housing Quality

Guiding Principle

Housing in the neighborhood will be safe inside and out, and properties will be well-maintained. 


Resident Priorities

  1. Home repair, maintenance, curb appeal

  2. Infrastructure: fix flooding issues, more trees, streetlights

  3. Aging in place

  4. Encourage compatible new construction/remodel

  5. Leverage rental registry

Statement of Need

The condition of housing is critical, from fostering community pride to ensuring public health. Increasing housing quality will require building relationships with landlords, enforcing and strengthening tenant rights, and encouraging improvements. Though aging housing stock may present challenges, investing in the diversity of residential architectural styles will play a vital role in neighborhood stabilization.

Goal 19: Promote quality management and maintenance of rental properties.


Improving the health and aesthetic appearance of rental properties will involve connecting directly with landlords and incentivizing good behavior. A vacant property registration would be a solid first step in managing blight, and proactive code enforcement will help reduce code violations while taking a compassionate approach to compliance.

Action Steps


Connect rental property owners to property management resources and best practices. Encourage a high standard of maintenance, help landlords operate according to rental property law, and train landlords to minimize conflict in their properties. Provide resources such as a good landlord manual and/or a registry of qualified third-party property management companies to share with owners of problem properties.


Provide incentives for responsible landlords. Reward responsible landlords who meet criteria for a high standard of property management and/or participate in landlord training programs. Incentives can include: fast-track approvals of permits for improvements; free or low-cost equipment; free radon testing; waived fees for property inspection; discounts on goods and services; and/or facilitated access to land bank property.


Explore creation of a rental registration and/or licensing program. A rental registry helps a city contact the property owner or other responsible party in case of an emergency or code violation and helps owners understand their obligations under city ordinances. Modest registration fees can help cover the cost of administering the program. Incentivize timely registration and renewal through penalties for failing to register. Explore expanding the registration program to a licensing program that incentivizes inspection of registered properties. Ensure compliance with the state legal framework and administrative capacity for successful implementation.


Require vacant property registration. Registration typically requires owners to pay an annual fee to cover costs of inspections and complaint response and designate a local agent responsible for maintaining the property. Some laws require owners to have liability insurance and file an action plan (i.e., “Statement of Intent”) for reuse after some period of vacancy. Minneapolis’s annual fee of over $6,000 for registration of vacant properties has been upheld by the courts [1].


 Better maintained rental units 

 All rental units, landlords, and vacant properties registered 

1. Karen Black. “Creating the Framework in Local Government Action on Problem Properties.” Vacant and Problem Properties: A Guide to Legal Strategies and Remedies. American Bar Association, Section of State and Local Government Law, 2019.

Goal 20: Incentivize rehabilitation and renovation of properties.


Upgrading deteriorating properties is an important part of stabilizing the Hilltop focus area. Significant investment in the exterior and interior of properties will improve quality of life for residents, and energy efficiency can help reduce monthly costs.

Action Steps


Create a revolving fund for acquisition and/or renovation of market-rate affordable rental housing. Help owners and developers acquire and upgrade rental units and stem deterioration. Provide a source of financing that supports more reinvestment in buildings than currently possible through conventional financing. Improved properties can be rented at “market-rate” affordable rates (60–120% AMI). Partner with “mom and pop” property owners and developers working on the Hilltop. Share risk between mission-oriented lenders, philanthropy, conventional lenders, and the public sector in a capital pool deployed as low-cost debt or equity.


Provide support for energy efficiency upgrades. Supporting energy efficiency would reduce operating costs for property owners while also lowering tenants’ energy bills and improving comfort. Connect residents and owners to resources for building energy assessments, technical assistance on energy efficiency, and access to incentives. Recommendations/improvements could include air sealing and insulation, new lighting, efficient boilers, boiler controls, thermostats, low flow water fixtures, etc. More information on page 151.


 Upgraded rental units 

 More energy-efficient units 

 Lower utility bills for residents 

Goal 21: Ensure housing units meet the changing needs of occupants.


To help stabilize the community, the dynamic needs of residents should be addressed with new approaches. Aging in place is an important strategy to prevent displacement, and all tenants deserve access to healthy and safe units.

Action Steps


Support the senior village concept to help people age in place. In August 2019, the Hilltop senior circulator route launched service to grocery stores, libraries, recreation centers, and senior living facilities. The collaborative effort is one aspect of the senior village concept that allows people to age in place in their homes and communities. The senior village network provides a variety of services to members, including transportation, light yard work, minor home maintenance, coordination with state/local services, technology assistance, and more.  A Hilltop network offering reduced or sponsored membership could help seniors age in place and feel safe at home.


Support tenants’ right to safe housing. Tenants should be empowered to report issues with their housing units without fear of retaliation. In New York, a mobile app called allows renters to make anonymous claims against their landlords and aggregates those claims so that city officials can see property owners with multiple claims filed. This allows officials to target landlords with more egregious offenses while shielding tenants from retaliation. Annual inspection of rental units in the focus area could help improve housing quality without asking tenants to report issues to their landlords.


 More seniors staying at home in the Hilltop 

 Less evictions 

 Safer housing conditions 


 Case Study #1 

The Healthy Homes Initiative is a program of the City of Cleveland that ensures safety of rental units by requiring rental registration.

A rental registry helps a city contact the property owner or other responsible party in case of an emergency or code violation, and helps owners understand their obligations under city ordinances. In 2017, the City of Cleveland began the Healthy Homes Initiative as an interdepartmental effort to prevent health issues related to the home environment. The program strengthens the existing rental registration process by charging owners who fail to register with a minor misdemeanor. All rental units in Cleveland are inspected on a rolling basis, but tenants and others can also submit specific complaints or concerns to inspectors. The program requires owners of rental properties to allow inspection of their units with one month’s notice. An investment of $1.9 million added 33 employees to form the Rental Inspection Unit, including inspection staff and a lead specialist. In addition, the city’s Public Health Department also added 21 employees. In 2019, the city began deploying Community Engagement Specialists across neighborhoods through Community Development Corporations (CDCs) to connect residents and landlords to healthy housing resources, education, and training. To effectively identify areas of need within neighborhoods, Community Engagement Specialists are housed in Cleveland CDCs and work closely with CDC staff to build trust with landlords and residents. Specialists provide landlords and residents with technical support, resources, and program identification, and conduct quarterly forums and classes for homeowners and landlords.



 Case Study #2 

A program in Chicago helps investors redevelop smaller multifamily properties into affordable market-rate units in strategic neighborhoods.

Following the foreclosure crisis, rental properties had severely depressed values in many neighborhoods throughout Chicago. Developers were unable to secure sufficient financing to acquire and sufficiently rehab smaller rental properties of the one-to-four unit typology prevalent throughout Chicago. To help owners and developers acquire and upgrade rental units and stem deterioration, a program offered by the Community Investment Corporation (CIC) in Chicago provides a source of financing that supports more reinvestment than possible through conventional financing. The program targeted communities with existing investment in the form of local institutions, mass transit, and neighborhood organizations. 

Research by the Preservation Compact—a group preserving affordable rentals in Chicago—found that conventional financing was available for building owners seeking to buy one-to-four-unit rental buildings, but only for individual buildings. As a result, many smaller investors could not get to scale, despite very strong cash flow with the properties. In response, CIC created a rental redevelopment program to provide permanent financing for responsible investors redeveloping groups of one-to-four-unit buildings. The program provides purchase, rehab, and/or financing for groups of distressed one-to-four unit buildings to complement public and private redevelopment efforts in low- and moderate-income communities.


Kathryn Reynolds et al. Innovative Financing Approaches for Affordable Rental Housing. Urban Institute. February 2019.

Visionary Concepts


Upgrade energy efficiency for market-rate affordable units in the focus area with an improved home energy program.

A program to improve the energy efficiency of aging Hilltop homes would help to reduce operating costs for property owners, while also lowering tenants’ energy bills and improving comfort. The program would connect residents and property owners to existing resources for building energy assessments, technical assistance on energy efficiency recommendations and incentives. It would require a promotional campaign to create awareness of the opportunities. Providing financing and/or matching grants would help attract participants. Improvements could include air sealing and insulation, new lighting, efficient boilers, boiler controls, thermostats, and low-flow water fixtures. It would initially need to provide a free energy assessment and access to utility rebates and incentives. Potential program partners could include MORPC, the Ohio Development Services Agency, Columbia Gas of Ohio, and other utility providers.


Support tenants’ right to safe and stable housing. Reform the eviction process to help improve family stability.

Keeping families in their homes should be a high priority, whether they rent or own. Most low-income families devote more than half their income to rent, and more than one in four children in families living below the federal poverty line experience an eviction by age 15.  In 2017, there were over 17,000 evictions filed in Franklin County Municipal Court and over 6,500 families were “set out,” meaning the sheriff was ordered to remove possessions from the property. On average, 75 families are summoned to the eviction courtroom each morning. Data shows over 40% of evictions in Franklin County occur in just six zip codes, and single mothers with young children, particularly African Americans, are at the highest risk. Furthermore, evictions cause large and persistent increases in the risk of homelessness, elevate long-term residential instability, and even increase emergency room use.

Efforts to reduce evictions should approach the issue from increased scrutiny on landlords and improved stability of families. One proposal to achieve this would require landlords to provide proof of their rental property registration and parcel ownership before filing an eviction, in order to ensure proper legal standing in the case. On the tenant side, limiting the availability of eviction court records in public searches could reduce the stigma and discrimination faced by those with previous evictions. Overall, families experiencing eviction need help navigating the legal process and getting connected with social services to prevent displacement.

Sources: Robert Collinson and Davin Reed. “The Effects of Evictions on Low-Income Households.” December 2018.

Ian Lundberg and Louis Donnelly. “How Many Children Experience Eviction During Childhood?” How Housing Matters. April 17, 2019.

Mixed-Income Housing

Guiding Principle

The Hilltop will be home for a range of income levels, while staying true to its diverse heritage.


Resident Priorities

  1. Diverse portfolio of affordable housing

  2. Rehabilitate historic housing

  3. Prevent displacement

  4. Create smaller districts

  5. More housing density

Statement of Need

Despite the Hilltop’s relative affordability in the Central Ohio market, many households are still burdened by monthly housing costs. Strategies to ensure affordability include efforts to build mixed-income community, increase development activity, and plan for long-term affordability. Particular attention should be given to stabilizing senior citizens.

Goal 22: Offer a variety of housing at levels affordable to multiple incomes.


Economic segregation in Central Ohio is rampant—so strategies to stabilize the Hilltop should focus on integrating households of varying incomes. New development, rehabilitation and renovation, and existing structures should be priced to include a diversity of neighbors, not just one income bracket.

Action Steps


Support the development of affordable rental housing. Create high-quality, permanently affordable rental housing for current and future residents of the Hilltop. Leverage land bank property and/or underutilized sites at key gateways to create new affordable rental housing through new construction or gut rehabilitation. Explore using a mix of 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credits (for new mixed-use development) and 4% credits (for rehabilitation and renovation). Identify strategic sites that build on areas of strength and align with investments in infrastructure, education, and services.


Explore expanding and adapting the land trust program to the Hilltop. As the housing market strengthens, create permanently affordable homeownership opportunities using the land trust model. Leverage land bank properties to minimize acquisition costs and use existing properties for renovation rather than building new. Capitalize on the economies of scale in multifamily units like historic row-houses and duplexes. Offering multi-family units in the land trust program would increase affordability, the number of families served, and preserve historic housing stock in the focus area, which has lost countless homes to demolition.


Incorporate affordability restrictions into new incentive programs. Consider adding affordability requirements to future cycles of incentive programs. Engage developers, property owners, lenders, and other partners to explore the feasibility of income and/or rent restrictions. Examine trade-offs between public benefit, financial feasibility, ease of participation, and ease of administration. Potential mechanisms include, but are not limited to: affidavits, deed restrictions, and restrictive covenants (to preserve affordability on sale or transfer).


 Displacement mitigated 

 Mixed-income communities 

 Affordable housing in perpetuity 

Goal 23: Stabilize housing and prevent displacement.


Housing instability is a major issue affecting hundreds of Hilltop households each year. The trauma of eviction on children should be considered, as well as opportunities to stabilize housing for heads of households earning credentials.

Action Steps


Reform the eviction process. Currently, property owners are not required to appear in court when they bring an eviction case against a tenant. Requiring landlords to appear in court would bring more parity to the legal process. The minimum notification for eviction filing is currently three days; this should be extended to allow more time for tenants to gather funds to pay rent in cases of unexpected hardship.

» In 2011, Cincinnati passed an ordinance protecting tenants from retaliatory evictions. If tenants complain about nuisance issues to the police or city officials, an eviction without good cause would be considered retaliation for those complaints within 1 year (Cincinnati Municipal Code §761-14).


Allow creative methods to mitigate property taxes.* When home values rise, property taxes follow. To help those on fixed incomes handle rising property taxes, payments could be deferred until the property is sold. This would allow the payment to be shifted from an ongoing expense that could compete with living expenses to a payment that may be less impactful if it comes from the sale of the property when the resident moves or passes away. Another option is a property tax freeze for long-term lower-income residents or seniors, which could maintain their property taxable level at the year in which they purchased the home or some reasonable threshold.


Provide legal representation for tenants facing eviction. Landlords often keep the upper hand in court by hiring lawyers to represent them. Columbus should ensure all tenants have access to counsel to help ensure tenants are being evicted for a just cause.


 Less evictions 

 Increased residential stability 

*Tax exemption categories are established by the State of Ohio. Changes to property taxation would likely require legislative change and coordination with Franklin County.

Goal 24: Concentrate housing investment and reduce barriers to development.


A dispersed approach to physical investments in housing will not have the same impact as a concentrated effort. Complicated and sometimes onerous regulations on housing developments can add time to construction, which inflates prices.

Action Steps


Relax red tape on housing construction. Red tape, referring to approvals, reviews, and permitting processes that development projects must go through, is necessary to ensure resident health and safety. However, there are parts of the process that could be improved and expedited, leading to increased housing supply and reduced costs. Funding for city staff to shepherd individual development projects through the necessary steps could minimize confusion and standardize the process for developers. Regulations like minimum lot size, maximum density, and minimum unit size effectively mandate more expensive apartments. Parking minimums also add cost. Based on typical affordable housing development costs, one parking space per unit increases costs approximately 12.5%, and two parking spaces can increase costs by up to 25%. Because parking costs are a higher percentage of rents charged for lower-priced housing and low-income households tend to own fewer vehicles, minimum parking requirements are regressive.


Encourage higher-density development along and near transit routes. Sites along Broad, Sullivant, and Mound should be higher-density and have reduced or eliminated parking minimums. Results from public planning meetings show the majority of participants support higher-density development along these corridors.


Mitigate market pressure on the Hilltop to house lower-income households. To re-balance the distribution of household incomes in all neighborhoods, affordable housing should be allowed throughout the city and region. This concept is explored more on the next page.


Parking requirements reduce the cost of owning a car while raising the cost of everything else. Many cities are now recognizing that parking requirements increase housing costs, prevent infill development on small lots, and prohibit new uses for older buildings that lack required spaces [1].


 More housing units built 

 Mixed-income neighborhoods 

1. Donald Shoup. Cutting the Cost of Parking Requirements. ACCESS, Spring 2016.


 Case Study #1 

A tenant relocation assistance program in Portland, Oregon compensates tenants who are forced to move without cause by landlords.

In Portland, evictions without cause were a major contributor to displacement in rapidly changing neighborhoods. A new policy helps shift some of the burden of displacement from tenants to landlords by requiring that landlords pay a relocation fee to tenants who are evicted without a just cause. The fee is substantial—about three month’s average rent—helping ensure that tenants have sufficient resources to find a new place to live and forcing landlords to think seriously before evicting their tenants or dramatically increasing rent. The relocation fee applies to tenants who are displaced under any of the following conditions: (1) a no-cause eviction, (2) a qualified landlord reason for termination, (3) a rent increase of 10 percent or higher over a 12-month period, (4) a substantial change in the lease terms, or (5) the renter receives no option to renew the lease.

Amount of Tenant Relocation Assistance

Studio/Single Room               $2,900

1-Bedroom                              $3,300

2-Bedroom                     $2,900

3-Bedroom or larger      $3,300

The Portland City Council mandates that renters in Portland who experience one of these triggering events must be paid relocation assistance by their landlord.2  Tenants must receive a written notice for any of these events at least 90 days prior to the effective date that includes: a description of their rights and obligations and the amount of relocation assistance they are eligible to receive. There are 12 conditions that allow landlords to be exempt from the relocation assistance requirement, including the property being a duplex in which the owner occupies one side as their primary residence.

Sources: Eliot Hetterly. Case Studies: Tenant Relocation Assistance. 2018.


 Case Study #2 

The new Minneapolis 2040 comprehensive plan eliminates single-family zoning, allowing three-unit buildings to be constructed throughout the entire city.

On October 25, 2019, the Minneapolis City Council adopted Minneapolis 2040, a comprehensive plan that permits three-family homes in the city’s residential neighborhoods, abolishes parking minimums for all new construction, and allows high-density buildings along transit corridors. Under the new plan, three-unit buildings (triplexes) would be allowed in every neighborhood. The language reads: “In neighborhood interiors farthest from downtown that today contain primarily single-family homes, achieve greater housing supply and diversity by allowing small-scale residential structures with up to three dwelling units on an individual lot.”  The move is intended to add housing supply to the city, which is experiencing serious affordability issues. The plan explicitly acknowledges the history of zoning as a tool of racial exclusion and notes that excluding renters from single-family neighborhoods through zoning helps perpetuate racial disparities. The policy also has the potential to help homeowners age in place by allowing accessory units for the elderly.

“Large swaths of our city are exclusively zoned for single-family homes, so unless you have the ability to build a very large home on a very large lot, you can’t live in the neighborhood.”
—Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey


The plan also has the potential to help slow the rapid increase of housing prices by increasing supply. Because the pool of available housing in high-opportunity neighborhods is low, prices keep rising. More units could stabilize that increase. Policies in Minneapolis 2040 take effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Sources: Minneapolis 2040. Page 107. December 2018.

Visionary Concepts


Stabilize the community land trust and expand properties into the Hilltop focus area for permanent affordability.

The City of Columbus plans to commit $3.8 million towards establishing the Central Ohio Community Land Trust (CLT), which was created in April 2019. Properties currently owned by the county and city land banks in four different neighborhoods will be transferred into the CLT, where private and nonprofit funding sources cover demolition of any existing buildings and construction of the first 40 homes that will be owned by the trust. The city’s funding contribution subsidizes the difference between the developers’ construction cost for new homes and what the homeowner pays during the final sale, to allow for lower asking prices. The homes will be sold to households with annual incomes between $40,000 and $80,000.1 Public and private contributions to a CLT bridge the gap between an affordable sales price and a structure’s market value. The new initiative initiallly focuses on Franklinton, the South Side, the Near East Side, and Weinland Park.

The Central Ohio CLT will be the fourth operating in the state, but there are dozens across the nation. The trust will hold the land as a permanent community asset and will guarantee perpetual affordability of homes, for its residents, through a 99-year land lease. CLT homeowners will own their home but lease the land underneath it from the trust; when a home is sold, it is sold back to the trust, which re-establishes an affordable sale price to the next buyer. This will guarantee each house remains affordable in perpetuity. Additional efforts to establish a pool of buyers are also being developed. The trust may build townhouses and multifamily units in the future. The CLT is a proven method of preserving affordable housing and would help ensure residents can remain on the Hilltop if home values increase.



Encourage housing voucher acceptance in all neighborhoods to reduce the concentration of poverty.

Receiving a housing choice voucher can be like winning the lottery—it is a random selection process based on eligibility and a waitlist. In the U.S., more than 17 million at-risk renter households eligible for rental assistance do not receive it due to funding limitations, meaning only a select few receive the voucher.1  After receiving the voucher, recipients must seek a place to live, but their money is not accepted by everyone. Many landlords refuse to accept tenants paying with a voucher, a practice which closes the door to many high-opportunity neighborhoods.2  To increase voucher acceptance, funds could be allocated help convince property owners to house needy families. A risk-mitigation fund could be made available (up to a certain threshold) to landlords who accept vouchers, helping reduce the perceived risks of housing voucher holders, similar to an insurance policy against damages to the unit. Another strategy would be to base the voucher amount on housing location. For example, if additional funds from local corporate and philanthropic sources were allocated, a voucher could hold the value of the median gross rent of the census tract in which it is applied. These policies would help disperse housing vouchers throughout the city rather than concentrate them in certain neighborhoods. Creation of a rental registry could offer other options to incentivize voucher acceptance. On the rental registration, landlords could be asked if they accept HUD Housing Choice Vouchers. If they decline, the registration fee will be higher. If they accept, the fee could be reduced or waived entirely.

Sources: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

House Bill 229, introduced to the Ohio legislature by Reps. Miller and Upchurch in 2019, would outlaw source-of-income discrimination. Federal and state fair-housing laws made some forms of discrimination illegal, but not source-of-income discrimination. More than 90% of those who use vouchers through the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority are African American, which means when housing is refused to a voucher holder, 9 of 10 times that housing is being denied to an African American household. Source:


Guiding Principle

People will be encouraged and empowered to buy homes for neighborhood stability and community pride. 


Resident Priorities

  1. Diverse portfolio of affordable housing

  2. Rehabilitate historic housing

  3. Prevent displacement

  4. Create smaller districts

  5. More housing density

Statement of Need

In 1960, nearly 70% of homes in the Hilltop focus area were owner-occupied. Today, that figure is just under 40%. Strategies to increase homeownership will prepare people financially, build pride, and add amenities to attract potential homebuyers. Additionally, shared-equity homeownership presents a unique opportunity for lower-income homebuyers to build wealth.

Goal 25: Expand financial capacity for current and prospective homeowners.


Offering homeownership counseling and credit repair, as well as a physical location for people to visit on West Broad Street, could transform the homeownership climate in the neighborhood. Expanding available capital to invest in the existing housing stock, as well as addressing exterior maintenance and repair issues, will help maintain the housing stock and prevent vacancy.

Action Steps


Increase access to homeownership counseling and financial literacy resources. Expand capacity and accessibility of organizations that provide homeownership counseling and credit repair, and explore creation of a satellite counseling office on West Broad. Improve the connection between mortgage lenders and homeownership counseling to prepare buyers for purchasing.


Pilot an appraisal gap second mortgage program for buying and renovating existing homes. Expand capital available for qualified homeowners and homebuyers to invest in existing housing stock. For homebuyers, help fill the gap between the appraised value of a home and the full cost of purchase and renovation. For homeowners, provide capital to renovate homes beyond what can be supported through home equity. For details, see the Visionary Concepts below.


Expand home repair assistance for low-income homeowners. Address exterior maintenance and repair issues before they worsen to help homeowners avoid future financial hardship, maintain the housing stock, and prevent vacancy and abandonment. Proactively connect homeowners to existing resources for addressing maintenance issues and avoid future financial hardship. Create a pool for forgivable loans (e.g., up to $20,000) available to homeowners on the Hilltop. Precedents and Partners: Chores Program, Roof Replacement Program, Emergency Repair Program, Habitat for Humanity, Weinland Park, and Healthy Homes.


 More first-time homebuyers 

 More home updating/renovating 

Goal 26: Support a culture of shared homeowner prosperity to build community pride.


Rebuilding the historic culture of homeownership on the Hilltop will take time. Opportunities to convene neighbors around the collective spirit of neighborhood pride and investment in homeownership will be part of the journey.

Action Steps


Consider shared equity homeownership options. Shared equity models help bridge the gap between what buyers can afford in a mortgage and the actual mortgage cost to own a property. Shared equity includes inclusionary zoning, limited equity cooperatives, and community land trust homes with long-term affordability restrictions. Purchasers have, on average, significantly less mortgage debt and lower monthly credit payments than other similar purchasers.


Fund and facilitate initiatives that honor high standards of home maintenance. Consider elevating home and yard awards in Neighborhood Pride! efforts and expanding resident recognition throughout the year. Offer funding to resident groups to recognize the contributions of neighbors.


Organize events that unify diverse residents and increase community connectedness. Use regular social gatherings to bring people together. The Hilltop has a rich heritage of civic life, from Kiwanis to Rotary and other clubs. Funding to support management of civic organizations should be established, with a particular focus on open events and celebrations. Block parties, festivals, and holiday gatherings can improve social connectedness, introduce neighbors, and reduce isolation.


Expand proactive code enforcement coupled with resources to address problems. Code enforcement can feel punitive and care should be taken to couple violations with resources and education to help homeowners tackle problems. Citations could include a resource list for assistance in addressing common maintenance issues. The city could facilitate payment plans or financing in partnership with approved contractors to address pressing issues—from roof replacement to tree trimming.


 Better-maintained homes 

 Increased community connection 

1. Shared Equity Research. The Urban Institute.

Goal 27: Enhance and add amenities to draw new homebuyers.


Moving to the Hilltop—and staying—will be about more than individual homes. When selecting a neighborhood, people often consider amenities like parks, trails, schools, retail, and other social networks that encourage community interaction.

Action Steps


Capitalize on Camp Chase Trail and other natural features. Part of the Ohio to Erie Trail, the Camp Chase Trail through the Hilltop brings many visitors to the neighborhood. These visitors are potential homebuyers and customers of Hilltop businesses. The benefits of bike tourism are well-documented, and with the right approach the Hilltop could become a destination for bike-packing and recreational riding. The natural beauty of the meandering Dry Run through Holton and Glenview Parks can also be a destination, as it provides a pastoral respite in the city.


Increase access to green space. Calculations show that a substantial section of the Hilltop focus area lives more than 10 minutes from a public park. While adding new parks in such a dense and historic neighborhood is difficult, adding green space and greenery in other ways may be more realistic. Capitalizing on the existing median parkways by increasing landscaping, programming, and tree canopy could allow people space to be outside without going to a formal city park. Improving the tree canopy on streets, as well as the condition of grass and plantings along the roadways, can increase residents’ exposure to natural elements.


Offer unique programs with a Hilltop-coordinated network of activities. An entity to organize events and manage initiatives across the Hilltop should be created through a multi-partner funding collaboration. Residents should have regular opportunities for socialization, both focused on addressing neighborhood issues and simply celebrating the community. 


 Increased awareness of trail 

 Frequent activities 


 Case Study #1 

The Champlain Housing Trust in Vermont offers affordable homeownership and rental units in perpetuity, utilizing multifamily properties to achieve scale in operations.

By producing more housing in multifamily buildings, community land trusts (CLTs) can achieve economies of scale, and at the same time help promote dense urban development and stabilize neighborhoods vulnerable to the displacement of affordable housing. Shared equity homeownership programs attempt to balance providing owners with an opportunity to accumulate wealth with maintaining the affordability of the units for subsequent purchasers. The nonprofit Champlain Housing Trust (CHT) was created with assistance from the City of Burlington in 1984. CHT is a CLT providing affordable homeownership and rental options through a shared equity program. CHT sells homes to families whose income is no more than the HUD median family income (based on the size of the household), most often to families earning less than 80% of area median income. Many homes in CHT’s program have retained their affordability, even in a housing market that saw steady price appreciation in the last decade. By allowing their homeowners to retain up to 25% of the appreciation, CHT’s resellers earned a median internal rate of return of 30.8% on their initial investment of about $3,000. This rate of return realized by most CHT home resellers far exceeded the returns that those resellers would have earned if they had rented their unit. CHT’s homeownership portfolio is made up of approximately 60% condominiums and 40% single family houses, including a handful of duplexes and mobile homes. Almost all of the program’s homes have between one and three bedrooms. Of the 435 resale-restricted, owner-occupied homes currently in CHT’s portfolio, about 130 are new construction built mainly between 2003 and 2007 by CHT or developed in partnership with private, for-profit developers.

Sources: Tom Angotti. Community Land Trusts and Low-Income Multifamily Rental Housing. Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. 2007.

Kenneth Temken, et al. Shared Equity Homeownership Evaluation: Case Study of Champlain Housing Trust. The Urban Institute. October 2010. 


 Case Study #2 

The new Minneapolis 2040 comprehensive plan eliminates single-family zoning, allowing three-unit buildings to be constructed throughout the entire city.

In the 1960s, residents of Shaker Heights created marketing campaigns to draw white homebuyers to sections of the city that were becoming primarily African-American in order to preserve multiracial streets. These early efforts “sold” the concept of integration and sought to maintain a balance between the many new black residents moving into these neighborhoods in the 1950s and new white residents attracted to the idea of living and raising their children in an integrated community.  One 1962 advertisement read: “There is prestige today in being among the thoughtful. Come and live with us in Ludlow, Cleveland’s model integrated community.“ Another read: “We don’t mind leading the nation in per capita income, but we want to lead in per capita intelligence and social understanding as well.” These early efforts at marketing and promotion evolved into a program called The Fund for the Future of Shaker Heights, created with philanthropic support from the Cleveland Foundation and the George Gund Foundation, as well as an impressive $200,000 derived from individual contributions. The program was adopted by the City of Shaker Heights as a tool for increasing neighborhood integration and ran for 27 years until ending in 2012.2  The Fund offered loans toward a down payment on a home as well as a reduced-interest mortgage or monthly mortgage supplements to home buyers making “prointegrative” purchases. During its years of operation, the Fund provided 425 loans totaling more than $2.7 million. The city attributed the organization to leveraging more than $1.3 million in neighborhood improvements after providing $565,318 in matching grant money.

Sources: Cynthia Mills Richter. Integrating the Suburban Dream: Shaker Heights, Ohio. Dissertation, University of Minnesota. December 1999.

Sun Press. June 22, 2011.

Visionary Concepts


An appraisal gap second mortgage could help homebuyers purchase distressed housing stock and bring it back to life.

There are plenty of homes on the Hilltop, but many need work. With an average construction year of 1929, much of the housing stock is aging and in need of significant repair. Traditional lenders—averse to risk—are unlikely to provide financing for properties that appraise at low values, making it difficult for homebuyers to purchase and renovate homes. An appraisal gap second mortgage program would expand capital for qualified homebuyers to invest in the existing housing stock, helping fill the gap between the appraised value of a home and the full cost of purchase and renovation. For homeowners, the program could provide capital to renovate homes beyond what can be supported through home equity. The program could share risk between mission-oriented lenders, conventional lenders, and the public sector in a second mortgage pool. Potential partners could be the Land Bank, Homes on the Hill, Homeport, or Habitat. Precedents for this type of program exist in St. Louis (Gateway Neighborhoods Mortgage Program) and Detroit (Home Mortgage Program). In St. Louis, loans allow up to $75,000 over the appraised value for the purchase and renovation of homes.



Capitalize on the activity and connectivity provided by the Camp Chase Trail. 

Access to recreational amenities, like a regional trail network, is a major positive influence for neighborhoods. In fact, the presence of trails has been connected to increased property values and overall desirability. The Camp Chase Trail has an entry point at Eureka Avenue, just south of Valleyview Drive and north of Glenview Park. The trailhead is just 3,000 feet from the Lower Scioto Greenway Trail via the Hilltop Connector—but the two trails are not connected, which forces users to travel along Harper Road and Valleyview Drive to complete the gap. While that gap should eventually be eliminated or improved, the entryway to Camp Chase Trail is a critical asset that should be elevated through physical intervention.

Coordinated trail markers that celebrate the trail could be installed at key access points—both for visitors and residents. The streets of Harris, Warren, Ogden, and Burgess all terminate to the north into the Camp Chase Trail, creating opportunities on both the streetside and trailside to highlight those connections. Because the Camp Chase Trail is part of the Ohio to Erie trail network, it draws a high volume of recreational users and long-distance cyclists. Bike tourism is a growing industry across the nation, and the proximity of the trail to potential attractions on Broad Street could leverage a positive relationship. Trail users may choose to stop in for lunch or have unique retail experiences if coordinated signage lets them know about existing opportunities in the neighborhood.

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