Home for veterans now complete, next project underway
“Housing is the building block of neighborhoods, especially neglected urban neighborhoods. Leveraging the capacity of the Church to impact housing sends a powerful witness about the lordship of Jesus,” says Brian Upton, Executive Director, BHITC. In the spring newsletter, BHITC expanded upon its housing and community development initiative, which is part of a 10-year vision, and provided an update on a housing project for veterans, located on Trowbridge Avenue in Cleveland’s Clark-Fulton neighborhood.
The veterans’ home, now complete, was dedicated this summer and the men moved in this fall. Look at the transformation! Shown in the top photo, which took place during the dedication event late June. In the photo, left to right, are Greg Wadel, BHITC’s Board Chair, Brian Upton, BHITC’s Executive Director, Bill Dillingham, President, Community Service Alliance (CSA) – a partner organization, Todd Broski, Veteran connected to CSA and Gus Frangos, President, Cuyahoga County Land Bank – another partner organization.
One thing is clear – for BHITC and its partners – their labor begins with housing, but housing as the tool for reaching people and families with the hope of Jesus. “Housing is critical when partnering with families,” said Upton. “When you don’t have a safe, consistent place to lay your head down at night, your capacity is blunted. Often, your gifts and natural talents are not unrealized. We want to address those challenges for our tenants through affordable housing first, but then also through much-needed vocational and spiritual support.” This is what BHITC’s housing and community development initiative is all about.
What’s next now that the Trowbridge house is complete? Underway is a project to renovate a house on Storer Avenue so that a missionary couple from BHITC partner, City Church in Ohio City, can move in as part of future joint outreach efforts. BHITC also hopes to bless refugee and immigrant families from The Hope Center through future houses. Long-term plans call for the transformation of 60 homes in BHITC’s targeted neighborhoods of Clark-Fulton and Stockyards over the next 10 years and the relocation of its administrative offices to the neighborhood in the short-term.
“We want these homes – homes BHITC renovates and manages for tenants with ongoing support – to be in as tight a geography as possible to maximize impact and blessing in one neighborhood,” said Upton. “But, housing is really only one portion of the plan.
While housing is at the foundation of our strategy, for the Gospel to become more fully tangible, BHITC will expand upon its housing strategy through community development, partnership with the local public school system – such as through a new partnership at Halle School of Inquiry in Stockyards – a Cleveland Metropolitan School District elementary school, resident engagement and leadership training.”
“Restoring foreclosed properties lifts the spirits and hopes of an entire community. These properties invite crime, neglect and a loss of dignity,” says Upton. “We hope to reverse those trends home by home, street by street, over time.”