Ribbon-cutting ceremony held Monday, May 7 to celebrate
God is in the restoration business – in more ways than you might expect! By His grace, He restores and refreshes the hearts and souls of all who cry out to Him, but recently at Building Hope in the City (BHITC), He’s also been at work on the near west side of Cleveland renovating not only hearts, but also homes!
Beginning late in 2015, BHITC and several area Christ-centered non-profits came together with a faith-inspired vision to restore and transform communities on the near west side with housing as the tool, and Nehemiah Collaborative was born. This collaborative effort is a combination of Community Service Alliance, Family Ministry Center, Scranton Road Ministries C.D.C and BHITC.
In urban communities, affordable housing has become one of the biggest concerns, contributing to destabilized neighborhoods, reinforcing the effects of poverty. Here in Northeast Ohio, the challenge is further complicated by increasing home foreclosures, evictions and vacant properties. Nehemiah Collaborative seeks to restore homes as a unique means of personal, community, economic and Kingdom restoration.
To prepare for the official launch of this effort, which occurred in March of this year, the partners conducted a moderate renovation of a home in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood from 2016-2017. As more plans began, several lead donors gifted funds and resources to support the restoration efforts, and Royal Redeemer Lutheran Church, a long-time supporter of BHITC, was happy to make leadership funding available in the way of a two-year, zero-percent interest loan of $50,000 toward Nehemiah Collaborative.
“Royal Redeemer recognizes that Christ’s love stretches to all people, all neighborhoods, without condition. BHITC and Crossroads are powerful and uniquely placed ministries that are able to make a lasting impact upon God’s people in a way we cannot. Blessed to become a blessing, we rejoice in the opportunity to partner with BHITC and help establish the process of providing safe, affordable housing, as well as further support the significant work of Crossroads. It is our prayer that, by this shared initiative, the Holy Spirit will work mightily as lives are improved, hearts are changed, seeds of faith are sown, and Jesus is glorified,” says Rev. John Zahrte of Royal Redeemer Lutheran Church.
With restoration of people’s lives at the center of it all, their only stipulation was for the money to be repaid directly to Crossroads Church in support of this church plant extension of Royal Redeemer and already connected to BHITC through its Transform216 coaching and mentoring initiative.
The collaborative partners decided to use the loan to renovate a property at 3709 Behrwald in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood, which nearly covered the entire renovation and recently became available as a market-rate sale. The Behrwald property was acquired at no cost through the Cuyahoga Land Bank, thanks to a substantial grant they gifted to the effort, and renovated by general contractors, Andrew and Jenna Isaacs, who run RenewCLE, a local home renovation business.
A ribbon-cutting and small dedication were held on Monday, May 7 with representatives from the Cuyahoga Land Bank, Royal Redeemer, RenewCLE and BHITC. “The Cuyahoga Land Bank is very pleased to participate in faith-based initiatives that not only uplift neighborhoods through renovating homes, but also uplifting lives and bringing people together in this Christ-centered mission,” said Gus Frangos, President and General Counsel of the Cuyahoga Land Bank.
RenewCLE owner, Andrew Isaacs, agrees and says, “The partner organizations have been doing some great work in the city for a long time, and I am so glad they formed Nehemiah Collaborative to extend that great work into housing. “I love the idea of doing ‘market rate’ homes to fund ‘ministry homes’ because Jesus is weaving it all together to transform homes and lives. We’re even seeing Him at work in the lives of the men we employ and our vendors. It is a powerful thing to see God’s love in action, and I am very grateful to be a part of it.”
The proceeds of this market-rate sale property will first pay off the loan to benefit Crossroads, then directly fund Nehemiah Collaborative’s next project in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood – a 2,500-square-foot, two-family home on Trowbridge Avenue, which will house 6-8 veterans transitioning to independent living. The sale of the Behrwald property will be through Duane Linder of Blue Roots Real Estate Group, LLC, who is donating a portion of his commission to these efforts.
Its overwhelmingly clear God is blessing the efforts of Nehemiah Collaborative! If you’d like to learn more, donate materials, your time or financially, visit www.buildinghopeinthecity.org/itstartsathome or www.nehemiahcollaborative.org.
Nehemiah was an Old Testament prophet who had a vision for city renewal that inspired support at every level of society. He was a leader and fantastic construction manager. He focused on neighborhood-based workforce development. He was resourceful and skilled at managing relationships. And infinitely more important, his leadership restored a community to what God had intended it to be. His “model” is the inspiration behind what this effort seeks to achieve.
While there are numerous not-for-profit programs designed to provide underprivileged people with housing, Nehemiah Collaborative believes that an improved housing situation only cures a symptom and does not address the root cause of poverty. We are focusing on the creation of a strong support network to provide the residents of our homes and their entire neighborhoods with the tools and resources they need to improve their living, working and spiritual situations.