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Community Planning to Manage Gentrification in Weinland Park,

by Ebony Gayles

Weinland Park is a small neighborhood located in Columbus, Ohio that boarders The Ohio State University and has about 4,700 residents. In 2004, residents of Weinland Park, the surrounding community and funders began working on the Weinland Park Neighborhood Plan. The goal of the plan was to revitalize Weinland Park for current and future residents. Detailed within the plan were the goals of transforming Weinland Park into a diverse, mixed-income residential and commercial neighborhood. During the planning stages, the community planners wanted to insure the current residents of Weinland Park would be able to stay in the neighborhood and benefit from the services and facilities that would accompany the revitalization of the neighborhood. So far the Weinland Park Neighborhood Plan has been successful at not displacing residents and making sure residents are able to benefit from the new services provided.

The Weinland Park Collaborative1 (WPC) has focused on Weinland Park with the goal of improving the lives of existing residents. The ways in which WPC seeks to achieve its goal is by focusing on a holistic approach to improving the lives of existing residents. WPC focuses on providing residents access to programs in education, employment, public safety, health and civic engagement. WPC also sees the value in residents’ voices and has structured their approach around the involvement of residents by working closely with the Weinland Park Community Civic Association (WPCCA). To build trust among WPC and WPCCA, WPC has assisted with meetings, organized group gatherings and done various other things to create a sense of community and provide a platform for residents of all economic backgrounds to communicate. WPC hopes to implement a monthly forum for new and old residents to better understand each other and work out any issues they may have.

WPC has focused on providing and preserving affordable housing to residents. WPC received $4 million dollars in Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) grants that were used to help address vacant and foreclosed properties in Weinland Park. In 2011, six new Habitat for Humanity homes were approved to be built in the Weinland Park neighborhood. Twenty-seven home owners in Weinland Park have been able to receive and average of $18,473 in grants from the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission Exterior Home Repair program to make repairs to their homes. In addition to federal funds and private grants, WPC has worked on creating housing choice at all price points ranging from 30 percent of the area median income to market rate. While placing income restrictions on who may purchase homes are one way to ensure low income families are placed in homes, placing credit history or credit score requirements may exclude low income families from qualifying for homes. WPC hopes to address in the future how credit scores can prevent desired tenants from qualifying for affordable housing.
Availability of quality high paying jobs is another concern of Weinland Park residents and WPC is working to help provide jobs to residents. A Weinland Park neighborhood survey showed that 18% of the responds worked full-time, 26% worked part-time and 36% were unemployed. To address the high level of unemployment in Weinland Park, WPC created a job training program with the help of a local community college. All participants in the program graduated but upon graduation all graduates were not able to find jobs. WPC has learned that in order to have a successful job training program there must be jobs for graduates upon graduation. WPC intends to have jobs waiting the future graduating classes upon graduation from the WPC job training program. Due to Weinland Park’s proximity to The Ohio State University (OSU), WPC thought there would be entry-level job available to Weinland Park residents at OSU. Unfortunately, WPC failed to realize that many of the residents did not qualify for work at OSU because they lacked the required education and work history for entry-level work at the university. Another barrier to work for Weinland Park residents has been felony convictions. Despite these setbacks, WPC has been successful in partnering with some organizations that recruit, train and place neighborhood residents in jobs, and WPC is now focusing on making sure residents meet the minimum qualifications.

Weinland Park has been transformed through the implementation of the Weinland Park Plan. Residents are still able to afford the neighborhood and benefit from the changes occurring in the neighborhood. Having a strong neighborhood association and WPC have contributed to making sure the community is involved in all major changes in the neighborhood and services are being provided to ensure the residents have the ability to own homes and access to quality high paying jobs.

1 The principal funders of the Weinland Park Collaborative are the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, The Columbus Foundation, United Way of Central Ohio, the City of Columbus, The Ohio State University, and Campus Partners for Urban Redevelopment.

More information:

Video: The Community Speaks - Weinland Park, Columbus, OH

Michael Wilkos, Columbus Foundation, The Weinland Park Plan

PRRAC’s project page on “Inclusive Gentrification? Strategies for Diverse and Stable Neighborhoods”

Ebony Gayles PRRAC Law & Policy Fellow

photo credit: Campus Partners

photo credit: Google maps

photo credit: Campus Partners

photo credit: Campus Partners
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