Sharon Ford got her the keys to her first home Friday afternoon. The home has been renovated from top-to-bottom and remained affordable, thanks to a project by the Port Authority and a loan from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.
“I know. I was excited to finally say, ‘Wow, this was ours. We get to put our stamp on it,’” Ford said as she stood in the kitchen of her new home.
The house sits on Jonathan Avenue. Ford purchased it for $145,000. A second house two doors down is also pending for the same amount. Both homes were renovated by the Port Authority. Now Ford, her fiance and her 10-year-old son, Avery, will move into a house instead of renting an apartment, which cost them more than a mortgage payment.
“I’m excited to have a backyard. I’m going to put a standalone hammock back there,” Ford said.
A $1-million loan from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation has enabled the Port Authority to renovate the homes, bring them up to code and sell them at a price homeowners can afford. Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman attended the ribbon cutting for the Fords’ home.
Smitherman said Evanston used to have the highest rate of home ownership by African-Americans and this renovation is the “shot in the arm” the neighborhood needed. He said Jonathan Avenue connects the neighborhood to Walnut Hills and Xavier University.
“It’s a very important artery. So repopulating it and stabilizing it with affordable housing is awesome. So this is the beginning of building a solid community,” Smitherman said.
Evanston has had problems with crime in the past. District 2 police Capt. Aaron Jones remembers starting his career patrolling Evanston. He’s glad to see it improving.
“As a young officer, I went from robbery to robbery to gun run to shooting,” Jones said. “Twenty-one years later as the captain, I’m going to groundbreaking, ribbon cutting, social events. Just to see the landscape and everything in the community change, it’s amazing.”
Evanston’s a work in progress and still has some issues, but it’s getting better. And now Ford calls the neighborhood home.
“I’m ready to do everything in here. I’m ready to make some lemonade and give it to my friends and have a barbeque,” Ford said.
The Port Authority is renovating homes in Walnut Hills, Bond Hill and Roselawn. The Fords’ home is the 36th property the Port has rehabilitated or built in Evanston since 2013.