OVER-THE-RHINE COMMUNITY HOUSING’S ORIGINS

ReSTOC (Race Street Tenant Organization Cooperative)

The Race Street Tenant Organized Cooperative (ReSTOC) was a low-income housing cooperative located in the Washington Park area of Over-the-Rhine. Founded in 1977, ReSTOC worked to provide sustainable, quality housing for tenants below the poverty line. At the time of the merger, ReSTOC owned 56 properties in Over-the-Rhine, all of which are reserved for low-income housing.

ReSTOC was a grassroots organization that worked with communities on 13th, 14th, Elm, Race, Republic, Pleasant and Vine Streets. Its goals within the area were to provide safe, quality housing and to develop and foster community growth. An example of such community can be found in the Republic Street and Elm Street Block Clubs, which are organized and run by tenants. These Block Clubs currently work to develop a sense of community on their streets, and within the community at large.

Volunteers were an integral part of ReSTOC’s success. As a nonprofit organization, ReSTOC only received about $700,000 a year to fund its operation. Because of this, the efforts and donations of volunteers made it possible for it to continue to develop low-income housing. Through Saturday Work Crews and its Adopt-an-Apartment and Adopt-a-Project programs, volunteers from all over the city of Cincinnati made a huge difference in the quality of homes that ReSTOC offers.

The cooperative under which ReSTOC functioned re-invested all rent paid by tenants back into the cooperative. In this way, the tenants’ rent went to support the organization by allowing more renovations and better maintenance of occupied units. However, tenants were not expected to pay more than 30% of their income on rent. The goal of ReSTOC was not to make money, but rather to provide as many units of quality affordable housing as possible.

ReSTOC was governed by a board that met monthly to bimonthly. This board was composed of tenants, staff members, and other individuals from the community. Over half of the board was composed of tenants, ultimately giving them the deciding vote in how ReSTOC operated.

OTRHN (Over-the-Rhine Housing Network)

The Over-the-Rhine Housing Network was created and incorporated in 1988. Its primary goal was to help revitalize the neighborhood of Over-the Rhine through the development of quality affordable housing.

As a community based Development Corporation, the Network received direction from a Board of Trustees composed of residents from the Over-the Rhine neighborhood, four different neighborhood development corporations, the Over-the-Rhine Community Council, and members at large. The Board of Trustees set the goals for the organization and monitored its success at fulfilling its mission to serve and benefit the community.

Consistent with its mission and guiding purpose, OTRHN worked to ensure that existing, low-wealth residents benefited from the neighborhood revitalization initiatives. Its developments contributed to the local economy through employment opportunities, supporting community businesses by purchasing materials and supplies locally, and by infusing the income tax base of the neighborhood.

By rehabbing formerly abandoned buildings, and occupying them with a stable tenant base, OTRHN increased local property values, improved the social and economic climate of the community, and made a better neighborhood for all.

As the community of the Over-the-Rhine changed, losing over 800 units of affordable housing in one year and losing long-time residents, and given the city’s restriction on affordable housing development; OTRHN engaged in a process to plan for a future that took into consideration those dynamics. They developed plans that included ways for residents to build wealth through a renter-equity program, and considered partnerships that included mixed income housing.

Additionally OTRHN engaged in a collaborative planning process with its sister groups in Over-the-Rhine. Like Over-the-Rhine Housing Network, Peaslee Neighborhood Center, ReSTOC, Contact Center and Drop Inn Center are grassroots organizations founded on principles of social and economic justices. Through the collaborative work, OTRHN did its best to find ways to be responsive to the community and to thrive in the changing environment of Over-the-Rhine.

Over-the-Rhine Community Housing Merger

Over-the-Rhine Community Housing was born out of the merger of ReSTOC and Over-the-Rhine Housing Network in 2006. Over-the-Rhine Community Housing has developed over 300 units of affordable housing and currently manages approximately 400 units. We have saved 45 historical buildings from the wrecking ball. We also provide referrals to other housing agencies and shelters.

Consistent with our mission and guiding purpose, we work to ensure that existing, low-wealth residents benefit from our neighborhood revitalization initiatives. Our developments contribute to the local economy through employment opportunities, supporting community businesses by purchasing materials and supplies locally, and by infusing the income tax base of the neighborhood.

Recent studies of community controlled, non-profit housing developments have concluded that the value of property near these developments typically increases. By rehabbing formerly abandoned buildings, and occupying them with a stable tenant base, we increase local property values, improve the social and economic climate of the community, and make a better neighborhood for all.