On the Policy side of CBP's strategies, CBP leads the Canton community in important discussions and actions to promote better community development. CBP’s policy work is focused on the City, foundations, and other institutions as key to creating “best practices” in community development. Recent examples include: the Canton Neighborhood Project, a year-long conversation with national neighborhood strategist David Boehlke on how best to renew Canton’s neighborhoods and led to the creation of Canton’s First Neighborhood Plan; and, the formation of Stark County’s Landbank, The Stark County Land Reutilization Corporation (SCLRC), to help address the myriad of issues that vacant and abandon properties create in our neighborhoods. Canton has a similar number of vacants as Columbus while having only 10% of the population!
Our Policy work is aimed at the issues confronting Canton’s neighborhoods-foremost the lack of investment (including time, effort but particularly money) by both public entities and residents themselves. High vacancies rates, high housing abandonment, low market demand, and an overbuilt environment coupled with the recent economic crisis led many residents to stop investing in their homes, accelerating the decline in these fragile neighborhoods. Abandoned and vacant properties cause further lack of confidence; this lack of confidence robs our neighborhoods of their equity making it difficult to maintain properties at a quality neighborhood standard.
Canton Comprehensive Plan
The City of Canton, czb llc., and Community Building Partnership finished the initial round of Comprehensive Plan community meetings last fall that focused on the current conditions of the City. A second round of community meetings highlighting the major elements of the Plan will be shared and discussed this summer (June or July 2015) Click the read more button for detailed information about Canton's next steps for the Comprehensive Plan.
Stark County Land Reutilization Corporation (SCLRC): The Stark County Land Bank
Community Building Partnership was successful in assisting with the establishment of the SCLRC. In April 2011 CBP engaged JimRokakis, current director of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute, to initiate a community wide land banking discussion with a variety of Stark County stakeholders, including County Commissioners and Treasurer. The Stark County Land Bank was formed in March 2012. CBPcontinues to champion the merits of land banking by demonstrating how community leaders and residents can use this community development tool to improve our neighborhoods and city. We have analyzed all six of our partner neighborhoods and submitted to the City and SCLRC recommendations for both vacant lot reutilization and demolitions. CBP is under contract to assist the City of Canton with processing applications for the SCLRC Side Lot Program.
Mahoning Road Corridor: Economic Development Project
JRC Community Renovation Corporation leads the Mahoning Road Economic Development Project as an integral part of their stewardship of NE Canton neighborhoods.
Mahoning Road NE from Harmont Avenue to Maple Avenue is a gateway corridor to the City of Canton and “Main Street” for the NEAR neighborhoods.The intended outcome is to create a “job ready corridor” positioned for business retention, expansion, and development.
Housing Counseling Services
With the closing of most nonprofit housing counseling efforts, a growing need for counseling services, and CBP’s promotion for more housing investments by residents, CBP identified “pre-purchase housing counseling” as a needed part of the community development system here in Canton. To that end, CBP contracted with two regional, HUD-certified counseling organizations that can provide pre-purchase housing counseling. CBP negotiated pricing to allow counseling to be affordable and self-funded in cases where there is no funding available. CBP offers Pre-Purchase Housing Counseling as an on-going service to our community. These services include:
Exclusive access to eHome America Home Buyer and eHome Money Financial Literacy courses- both on-line and HUD-certified in pre-purchase housing education. These self-directed courses lead to a HUD certificate for the nominal cost of $99.00 per course
Access to one-on-one counseling sessions through Apprisen, the former Consumer Credit Counseling Society (CCCS). Apprisen has had a Canton office for 15 years, has HUD-certified counselors, and is a HUD-certified organization. Again, these counseling sessions will cost consumers $75.00 per session and can be self-funded.
Capital for Neighborhoods
Working with all our lending partners, CBP established CBP’s Lending Services to provide affordable and quality financing for both home improvements and home buying. Led by Huntington Bank’s $15 million, 3-year commitment to all low-to-moderate census tracks in Canton, CBP offers Lending Services to many neighborhoods in Canton. These specific loan products are EXCLUSIVE to CBP-only eligible through the CBP partnership office.
Supporting the City's Community Development Agenda
CBP is committed to assisting the City of Canton with its neighborhood agenda. During 2014, CBP was awarded two separate fees-for services contracts to assist the City with:
Processing City Rehab Program applicants and applications, including over 60 applications in 2014 with the potential of over $1 million in approved grants;
•Assisting City departments with their “due diligence” regarding the Stark County Land Reutilization Corporation’s Side Lot program, where property owners have the opportunity to receive adjacent vacant property.
David Boehlke: Canton Neighborhood Project
“The Canton Neighborhood Project has been developed and managed by Community Building Partnership of Stark County, Inc. (CBP) on behalf and under contract with the City of Canton. It is CBP’s desire that this effort continue the important community conversation on how best to renew the neighborhoods of Canton. CBP gratefully acknowledges and thanks Mayor William Healy and his administration, the Community Development department, and City Council of the City of Canton for their support and guidance on this project”. Joel Owens, Director of CBP