NeighborWorks Toledo Region is a NeighborWorks America network member which has served the city of Toledo for more than 35 years. With a long-term focus on housing development, NeighborWorks Toledo Region, in 2008, aimed to assess the outcomes of their neighborhood revitalization efforts by gathering data on resident satisfaction and property conditions in specific communities. At the same time, Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, a key anchor institution in Toledo’s historic Olde Towne district for more than 155 years, sought to inform the development of its multi-site traffic corridor investment plan. The Medical Center, already familiar with NeighborWorks Toledo Region’s work on a previous community level evaluation effort in a nearby neighborhood, approached NeighborWorks Toledo Region to partner to form the Cherry Street Legacy Project, focusing broadly on the organizations’ joint objectives to address long-standing concerns in the Cherry Street Legacy neighborhood adjacent to the Medical Center – including lack of affordable rental, vacant and abandoned properties, and crime.
Approach & Solutions
NeighborWorks Toledo Region used Success Measures’ tools and methodology to implement a community level evaluation as a component of the Cherry Street Legacy Project. With guidance from Success Measures, NeighborWorks Toledo Region identified relevant data collection tools – drawn from the comprehensive Success Measures Data System; trained its staff and community residents to administer resident surveys and conduct block observations; analyzed evaluation data, and communicated key findings to staff and community stakeholders.
The resident survey revealed substantial community support for neighborhood improvement projects and helped the Cherry Street Legacy Project partners identify residents’ primary neighborhood concerns. The survey and block observation data served as the basis for a number of initiatives involving the City of Toledo and the Toledo Police Department, and informed a plan for NWWVT, working with the Toledo-Lucas County Plan Commission and the Lucas County Land Reutilization Corporation, to develop in-fill housing that would fit the neighborhood’s historic character. In partnership with Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, NeighborWorks Toledo Region leveraged evaluation data to submit a proposal to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency which secured roughly $10 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs). This development of 40 single-family affordable rental homes designed with green features in the Cherry Street Legacy neighborhood was the first new housing built in a generation in the historic Olde Town neighborhood.
The Medical Center introduced NeighborWorks Toledo Region to the Toledo Community Foundation, who later contracted with them to lead resident engagement efforts and conduct a similar community-level evaluation in the former industrial neighborhood of Overland Park. The foundation hoped to measure the impact of its efforts supporting economic and workforce development that help increase employment opportunities for the next generation of neighborhood residents.
NeighborWorks Toledo Region reported that the community level evaluation helped the organization to zero in on the issues residents’ cared about – central to their mission – as well as build staff and residents’ capacity to collect and use data that would inform its neighborhood revitalization efforts and the work of local partners. Furthermore, in the spring of 2015, NeighborWorks Toledo Region was awarded the 2015 Energy Star Award for Excellence in Affordable Housing for the inclusion of many energy-saving innovations in the development of the Cherry Street Legacy project homes.
About NeighborWorks Toledo Region
NeighborWorks Toledo Region is a nonprofit housing and community development organization affiliated with NeighborWorks America. For more than 35 years, NeighborWorks Toledo Region has operated as a neighborhood-based community development corporation, maintaining its original focus on neighborhood revitalization in addition to managing a diverse portfolio of neighborhood development initiatives including: a home weatherization assistance program, housing development of both for sale and rental properties, and, more recently, Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) affordable rental housing development.