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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Thank You for Making an IMPACT!

Thank You for Making an IMPACT!

On behalf of the entire Cuyahoga Land Bank team, I would like to thank everyone for making our 10th anniversary IMPACT! event such a success. On Thursday, October 17, we gathered with nearly 400 of our friends and partners in the non-profit and community development field, government, and private sector at The Madison in Cleveland to celebrate the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s $1.4 billion economic impact in Cuyahoga County over the last decade.

Whether you bought tickets to help us celebrate, donated, sponsored the event or purchased advertising, know that your generosity helped to make the event a smashing success. We raised more than $240,000 through the event that will help support the Cuyahoga Land Bank Charities in providing resources to our many charitable partners.

A special thank you to our fabulous event chairs, Len Komorosky (Cleveland Cavaliers CEO) and Fred Geis (Geis Companies Owner), our distinguished host committee, and our outstanding emcee Peter Lawson-Jones. I’d also like to acknowledge our Keynote Speaker Jim Rokakis, Board Chairman Tony Brancatelli, and Silent Auction Chair Ann Frangos for their help in making our first fundraiser an evening to remember.

I would also like to thank the best land bank staff in the country for their hard work in planning and hosting our IMPACT! event.

If you are interested in helping the Land Bank Charities promote affordable housing, economic stability and equitable wealth building, education, and family stability through homeownership, click here.

Today, we will roll up our sleeves and recommit to uplifting our community and its citizens in a spirit of collaboration, service, and bringing opportunity to all.

Gus Frangos
President & General Counsel

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Bessie’s Angels Dedicate Second Home

Bessie’s Angels Dedicate Second Home

Friends, neighbors and volunteers gathered in September to celebrate the official opening of Bessie’s Place II, a permanent low-income housing opportunity for young ladies age 18-24 who have aged out of foster care.  Bessie’s Place II is a collaboration between Bessie’s Angels, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating, empowering and nurturing young women as they transition into a new phase of their lives, and the Cuyahoga Land Bank.

Bessie’s Place II was made possible by a host of generous donors and dedicated volunteers who worked for many months to fully renovate the home in Cleveland Heights. (The first Bessie’s Place opened in the fall of 2017 in East Cleveland.)  The Cuyahoga Land Bank transferred title to the home once renovations were completed to specifications.

“Bessie’s Angels continues to open doors and create a healthy life transition to young women who are aging out of foster care,” says Gus Frangos, President and General Counsel for the Cuyahoga Land Bank. “These young ladies are being supported in their quest to navigate a successful path to self-sufficient and independent adulthood. They are doing great work in the community, and we are pleased to be able to continue to support them in their efforts.”

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Case Study: Place Making: Elizabeth Baptist Church

Case Study: Place Making: Elizabeth Baptist Church

Elizabeth Baptist Church, a pillar of the Hyacinth neighborhood on Cleveland’s east side, has ministered to the spiritual and physical needs of its congregation for nearly a century. Under the steadfast leadership of Pastor Richard Gibson, the church provides amazing outreach and restorative work in the community it serves. The Church offers a wide range of ministries at its large campus, including a family shelter, food pantry, health center, prison ministry, free clothing store, and a variety of youth programs.

In 2015, Church leaders approached the Cuyahoga Land Bank seeking assistance in dealing with numerous blighted vacant and abandoned properties surrounding the church campus. Through persistent collaborative work with church leaders, the Cuyahoga Land Bank helped stabilize the Church’s environment through strategic acquisition and demolition of several surrounding vacant structures, relieving the neighborhood of criminal hide-outs and unsightly dangerous buildings. The Church is now transforming these lots into landscaped greenspace, community gardens, and recreation and public space for congregational needs, giving a fresh new look to this historic block.

“The Cuyahoga Land Bank serves as one of the most critical catalysts for the continued revitalization of the Greater Cleveland area,” says Pastor Gibson. “The Cuyahoga Land Bank rebuilds communities through blight elimination and collaborative planning with neighborhood residents and stakeholders. Proactive decisions taken by the Cuyahoga Land Bank are helping transform the streets surrounding our very active campus. The Cuyahoga Land Bank continues to be an invaluable resource.”

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Fisher Houses Near Completion

Fisher Houses Near Completion

We are excited to see the final touches being put on the Greater Cleveland Fisher House apartments. The final phase of the $3 million project has wrapped in preparation of a formal dedication and ribbon cutting in June.

The Fisher House Foundation built two Fisher House complexes with 16 suites each that will accommodate up to 50 family members of veteran or active duty military personnel receiving treatment at the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center and other local hospitals while their loved ones are being treated. Located on East 105thStreet and Lee Avenue, the building site was once a series of vacant properties. The Cuyahoga Land Bank was instrumental in assembling the 2.5 acres of land to make the project a reality.

“This project was built on community partnerships,” says Gus Frangos, President and General Counsel for the Cuyahoga Land Bank. “We were privileged to work with the Fisher House Foundation, VA, City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Famicos Foundation and so many others to make this incredible project a reality. Thanks to Jack Schron, a long-time Fisher House supporter and early driving force for the Cleveland Fisher House project, for bringing the Cuyahoga Land Bank in to help assemble the land for this project.”

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