Making a Dream a Reality

Making a Dream a Reality


The dream of a home of their own became a reality for a local family, thanks to The Building and Leveraging Opportunities (BLO) Foundation (known by its fraternal name Beta Lambda Omega), a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming lives and revitalizing communities through impactful programs like its #ProjectFreshStart initiative. The Cuyahoga Land Bank and its nonprofit arm, Cuyahoga Land Bank Charities, were just two of the many partners that helped make this dream a reality. Learn more about this heartwarming story HERE.

Watch the family get the keys to their new home on 19 News HERE.

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The Power of Giving Back

The Power of Giving Back


The holidays are a time for giving, and what better way to give than by donating to a great cause? In a world facing a growing housing crisis, organizations dedicated to providing housing opportunities to vulnerable populations and communities play a crucial role in ensuring that everyone has access to safe, stable, and affordable shelter. These organizations work tirelessly to address the housing needs of individuals and families experiencing homelessness, poverty, or other challenges that make it difficult to find and maintain housing. Cuyahoga Land Bank Charities supports many local organizations that serve vulnerable populations and communities needing help now more than ever. Please visit our website HERE for a list of our partners, the people they serve, and opportunities to support them in their work.

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Exploring Cleveland’s Mount Pleasant and Union-Miles neighborhoods, and a housing project aimed spurring development


CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Mount Pleasant and Union-Miles neighborhoods have seen better days, but some believe better days are coming.

Cuyahoga County Land Bank Charities this summer announced its plan to build or rehab hundreds of houses in Mount Pleasant, a much-needed boost for the area.

Over the next three years, this project, which is in partnership with Habitat for Humanity and the St. Luke’s Foundation, is set to construct 55 new homes, 15 of which will be in Mount Pleasant. Another 79 homes will be extensively rehabbed or receive repairs. (Buckeye is also included in the project.)

Read the full article on HERE.

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#ProjectFreshStart is Changing Lives

#ProjectFreshStart is Changing Lives

 The Smith family (center) along with key Project Fresh Start partners.

The Smith family has lived at Laura’s Home, a crisis center for women on Cleveland’s west side, for more than a year. Now, the family is getting ready to settle into their own home thanks to a group of caring individuals looking to create sustainable change in communities.

The Building and Leveraging Opportunities (BLO) Foundation (known by its fraternal name Beta Lambda Omega), a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming lives and revitalizing communities through impactful initiatives, is making a huge impact in the lives of the Smith family through its #ProjectFreshStart initiative.

BLO kicked off the transformative project to provide a previously homeless family with a new home in July of 2023. The endeavor received tremendous support, garnering generous cash contributions anchored by a $50,000 donation from Cuyahoga Land Bank Charities, in-kind services and donations. The renovation of the home in Cleveland’s Mt. Pleasant neighborhood was made possible with assistance from more than 20 partners, including Cuyahoga Councilwoman Meredith Turner, The Beta Lambda Omega Cleveland Ohio Alumni Chapter Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc., and AKA Construction. The Cuyahoga Land Bank also provided a formerly abandoned home for the project, together with the Cuyahoga Land Bank Charities’ $50,000 in grant funding to renovate the house.

Previously homeless, the Smith Family (Mom and her three sons aged 16, 15 and 6) participated in the City Mission’s New Horizon’s Program at Laura’s Home, completing a required 12-month program in which participants receive food, shelter, counseling and training in confidence-building life skills. The family, carefully chosen to receive the Project Fresh Start home, was introduced to the community on October 7th at the 60th Anniversary Gala hosted by the Beta Lambda Omega Cleveland Ohio Alumni Chapter of Iota Ohio Theta Fraternity Incorporated.

Through #ProjectFreshStart, the BLO Foundation and its partners aim to make a lasting impact by supporting the Smith family’s transition towards a brighter, more secure future.

“The Cuyahoga Land Bank was a pivotal partner in this project,” says Orlando Grant, BLO’s Board Chairman. “When we first had the idea for this project, the Land Bank not only supported us in finding a foundationally sound home and much-needed funding but also offered valuable expertise throughout the renovation, a real tangible benefit that helped ensure the long-term success of this project.”

The kickoff event for #ProjectFreshStart was held in collaboration with the Downing Brothers, renowned HGTV stars of “Backyard Wars” in July.


The Smith Family finds out they have been selected as the Project Fresh Start home recipients.


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Habitat Partnership Brings Affordable Housing to Greater Cleveland

Habitat Partnership Brings Affordable Housing to Greater Cleveland


Cuyahoga Land Bank Charities is excited to partner with Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland and the Saint Luke’s Foundation to develop affordable housing for homeownership in the Buckeye and Mt. Pleasant neighborhoods of Cleveland. The project, backed by a total budget of $33 million, will focus on four key areas: new construction, rehabilitation of existing homes, critical home repairs, and a spruce-up program for modest exterior repairs.

Cuyahoga Land Bank Charities, alongside its fiscal sponsor Cuyahoga Land Bank, is investing $2 million in this crucial initiative. Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland will lead the project with the ambitious goal of establishing 55 new construction homes (40 in Buckeye and 15 in Mt. Pleasant), rehabilitating 24 homes (15 in Buckeye and 9 in Mt. Pleasant), providing critical home repairs for 85 homes (45 in Mt. Pleasant and 40 in Buckeye), and supporting 90 homes with spruce-up services (65 in Buckeye and 25 in Mt. Pleasant).

The project aligns with the housing safety and stability strategy of increasing access to affordable and quality housing, as well as the Saint Luke’s Foundation Neighborhood of Choice strategy for eliminating blight and enhancing aesthetic appeal. Habitat for Humanity is committed to providing 30% of the subcontract work to minority contractors, starting with the critical home repair and spruce-up programs, as part of its ongoing efforts to support equity and increase opportunities for BIPOC (black, Indigenous and people of color) families to become homeowners.

This housing initiative is set to take place between June 2023 and June 2026. Funding for years two and three will occur upon the successful completion of the outlined deliverables from the previous year, ensuring greater accountability and productivity in meeting the grant application goals.

For more information about this project or to get involved, please contact Cuyahoga Land Bank Charities or Habitat for Humanity of Greater Cleveland.

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A Meaningful Mission

A Meaningful Mission


In celebration of its 200th year on Cleveland’s Public Square, the historic Old Stone Church has embarked upon a critical mission to address housing insecurity in our community. Old Stone Church is co-sponsoring the Cuyahoga Land Bank Charities’ Matching Grant Program with a commitment of $250,000 to provide 200 homes (representing its 200 years of service to Greater Cleveland) to house vulnerable populations. Cuyahoga Land Bank Charities, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Cuyahoga Land Bank, kicked off the program with a $1 million endowment and continues to generate philanthropic resources to further its mission. To date, Cuyahoga Land Bank Charities has received $1.6 million additional dollars towards the mission.

“We are excited to partner with Old Stone Church to bring affordable housing solutions to those who need it most in our community,” says Gus Frangos, Cuyahoga Land Bank’s President & General Counsel. “There is no end to the impact we can have through our Land Bank Charities subsidiary and partnerships like this.”

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Northeast Ohio charities team up to gift rehabbed homes to single moms, veterans, and others in need

Northeast Ohio charities team up to gift rehabbed homes to single moms, veterans, and others in need


Land Bank Charities provides house, grant money for renovation

Yvette Applewhite and her 12-year-old daughter were just handed the title to their very own home — after months of struggling with keeping a roof over their heads.. and food on the table.

“Sometimes I still pinch myself like when I get off from work. We’re going to a home – our own home. It’s still amazing after 20 months,” Applewhite said.

Read the full story HERE.

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The Challenging Work of Nonprofit Housing

The Challenging Work of Nonprofit Housing


Some of the most gratifying work of the Cuyahoga Land Bank is when we can execute our “brick and mortar” mission in a way that supports human and social service needs. Over the years, the Cuyahoga Land Bank has provided more than 155 homes and buildings to social service, faith-based and nonprofit organizations that offer affordable housing, community stabilization, and skilled-training opportunities. The Cuyahoga Land Bank identifies suitable vacant homes and donates them to such mission-based organizations and places of worship. The houses are then renovated with funds raised through their philanthropic networks to meet the housing needs of veterans, persons in recovery, single mothers, victims of human trafficking, those aging out of foster care, and individuals re-entering the community after incarceration.

The Land Bank fields dozens of calls every year from up-and-coming nonprofit groups interested in acquiring a Land Bank property to further their nonprofit mission to these vulnerable populations. While some interested nonprofits have developed the necessary experience to renovate a home, it is often the case that many organizations do not have the capacity to qualify for a Land Bank property. Some need a little more coaching; others need donor support. Some might need to establish a working board of directors, and others might need more consistent programming. In those cases, the Land Bank refers them to the folks at Building Hope in the City (BHITC), a Christian mission organization with focus areas that include restoring neighborhoods and better equipping city leaders and organizations throughout the Cleveland area. It uniquely links local congregations and volunteers with the many people it serves to foster relationships and spur personal and community transformation.

“I try to give them a vision of what it looks like to work with the Cuyahoga Land Bank,” says Vatreisha Nyemba, BHITC’s Community Development Director. “Many of these groups are doing great work in the community but are not ready as an organization to tackle the complexities of a housing renovation. Because housing is not going to be the thing that ignites their vision, I encourage them to do what they do best with their existing talents, skills and resources and stay focused first on their mission. While housing is crucial to family and community stabilization, the next step for many organizations may be to offer much-needed programming at libraries or in churches, serve people on the streets, partner with neighborhood schools, host workshops, take kids on trips, or provide support in local prisons or shelters right where potential participants are currently located. Some activity should be underway before seeking to take on a renovation project for a particular vision.”

Vatreisha works with these organizations – sometimes for several years – connecting them with the nonprofit ecosystem to help them strengthen their organization. When they return to the Land Bank, they are better prepared to take on the challenge of transforming a vacant and abandoned property into housing for a vulnerable population or other use benefitting the community.”

“I love that the Land Bank keeps this door open to these often smaller but very passionate organizations,” says Vatreisha. “We need these people who are thinking creatively about the community’s social service needs. They just need a little guidance. I love working with the Cuyahoga Land Bank and to be a welcoming person who listens to these smaller organizations and their vision. I strive to bring encouragement and relevant direction. I’m here to be their biggest cheerleader while simultaneously bringing their feet to the ground with practical next steps and things to consider regarding the desire to take on a property. I want to help them do this right, so they are successful.”

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Inspired to Affect Change

Inspired to Affect Change


Danielle Acosta was shocked by the glaring, overwhelming need for affordable, safe housing while working as an educator of low-income and homeless students. As a real estate investor and property manager, she consistently heard stories about the many challenges so many in our community face attempting to locate and secure a home for their families. Danielle was inspired to affect change.

Danielle founded DNA Rising along with two partners, Tracie Cleveland and LaToya Smith, who work in the banking industry. The non-profit is dedicated to bringing single mothers and veterans out of homelessness by providing safe, renovated housing upon completion of education, job training and recovery programs in partnership with various community organizations that serve them.

“Between my real estate and rehab work, I was receiving four or five calls a week from people desperately looking for decent places to rent,” says Danielle. “There are all kinds of social services organizations doing wonderful work, but those programs typically don’t have a housing component. We hope to help fill that gap,” says Danielle.

In 2021, DNA Rising teamed up with the Cuyahoga Land Bank and a host of volunteers and donors to transform a vacant and abandoned property in Cleveland’s Forest Hills neighborhood. After sitting vacant for several years, the four-bedroom, three-bath home was in complete disrepair. “The house was condemned and probably headed for demolition,” says Danielle. “It took 20 volunteers over two days just to remove the trash. All the major systems needed replacing, including HVAC, electrical and plumbing, and there were repairs needed due to water damage.”

When complete, the home will serve as semi-permanent housing for up to four male veterans climbing out of distressed situations. Residents will meet specific criteria, including completing job training, recovery, and counseling programs.

The Home Depot Foundation and local companies donated materials, supplies and labor to complete the repairs, along with a host of dedicated volunteers from HOPE worldwide. Danielle anticipates the renovation to be complete in April and ready for the selected veterans to move in shortly after. The group is also hosting an educational workshop for veterans in April. Participants will receive individual assistance from a VA representative, rental resources, and information on the application process for the renovated home.

Danielle is already searching for the perfect location for the group’s next project – a home for a single mother and her family. Click HERE for more information, volunteer opportunities or to donate to DNA Rising.

The Cuyahoga Land Bank is fortunate to collaborate with many outstanding organizations throughout Cuyahoga County that support underserved and at-risk populations in our community. By donating properties from our inventory to these organizations with unique property needs, we can help them advance their community mission—a win-win for all.  

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Habitat Dedicates Former Land Bank House

Habitat Dedicates Former Land Bank House

Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity dedicated their 13th house of 2020 in mid-November. The house, located on Wilmore Avenue in Euclid, is now home to Lakeesha, a 42-year-old Regional Transit Authority (RTA) worker.

“I appreciate all the good, hard, quality work everyone put into the house,” says Lakeesha. “This house is made with love, and I know it and appreciate it.”

Tired of paying high rent payments with nothing to show for it, Lakeesha finally decided she wanted more than apartment living and set out to find the right homeownership opportunity. Habitat for Humanity’s community development and financing options were the perfect fit.

Habitat homebuyers commit to working alongside community volunteers in the construction or rehabilitation of their house. Homebuyers must provide sweat equity hours, take homeowner education courses, and meet requirements of home ownership. Lakeesha, who works the second shift at RTA, volunteered 200 sweat equity hours with Habitat. More than 20 other volunteers contributed over 850 volunteer hours renovating the two-bedroom, one-bath 958 sq. ft. home.

A long-time west side resident, Lakeesha looks forward to moving closer to her mother and sister who live on the east side. With a large family that enjoys spending time together, including three brothers and three sisters, Lakeesha is looking forward to hosting her family for holidays and back yard barbeques. “I especially love the front porch and the front and back yard,” she says. “I never had the family over to my apartment because it was too small; now, I will finally be able to host,” she says excitedly.

As part of an ongoing collaborative partnership, the Cuyahoga Land Bank provided the formerly abandoned home to Habitat. “We are dedicated to making homeownership a reality for those looking to make that investment in themselves and our community,” says Gus Frangos, Cuyahoga Land Bank President and General Counsel. Habitat is a great partner in our work building economic stability in our neighborhoods.”

“It warms my heart when people go out of their way to make things better for others,” says Lakeesha. “I love when people do the right thing when no one is looking. It’s so amazing when people come together to do better and make a change. I thank them all.”


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