• Sat. Jan 28th, 2023

Local woman’s vision for housing for teen parent families coming to life in North Avondale

Contributed   

Teen parent families win as a $1M Development Project for teen parents becomes a reality in North Avondale. Rosemary’s Babies Co. has officially purchased Rupel House, a 6,400 sq. foot North Avondale mansion to be transformed into a premier multi-use facility for teen parent families, to be named Holloway House & Resource Center.

The Hamilton County Landbank (The Port of Greater Cincinnati) sold the historical Samuel Hannaford property to local non-profit Rosemary’s Babies Co. The property had been in the possession of The Port since 2017 after the North Avondale Neighborhood Association was unable to manage the upkeep and taxes. The property sat blighted for several years before being stabilized in 2019.

The process to purchase the property began in 2020 when CEO Rosemary Oglesby-Henry learned that more than 35% of the teen parents they were currently serving were homeless. Further, there were no shelters or supportive housing in the city that would accept parenting minors under 18 years of age with their children. 

The organization began to research the situation further and has since been working collaboratively with city officials, GroundWork Ohio, and others to review policies that prevent teen parents from being housed when they are homeless as well as the impact this has on their maternal health.

Oglesby-Henry understands firsthand the stress of being housing insecure. Once a teen parent, she found herself housing-insecure with her baby at 17 years old.

Kelley Williams, M.Ed., Executive Assistant at Ohio Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, at left, with Rosemary Oglesby-Henry, President and CEO of Rosemary’s Babies, at the groundbreaking event to transform the old Holloway House and Resource Center, at the northeast corner of Reading Road and Lennox, to a life-changing center for teen parents, their babies and the community.

Oglesby-Henry says, “the trauma of being a teen parent alone is overwhelming and homelessness only exacerbates this.”

Rosemary gives thanks to her Grandmother Rose, after whom the property will be named, for using her home as a beacon for her as a young mom. 

“My grandmother died in 2020 at 93 years old but until she was laid to rest her doors on Holloway Avenue were home to vagrants, family, and any person who might be deserving and sometimes not.” She believed in kindness and God. “Her love for children was boundless and so was her love for me.”

The organization chose the Avondale neighborhood based on the need as almost 30% of the teen parents they served were from the community.  In 2019 the historical Black neighborhood of Avondale, in Cincinnati, did a Quality of Life Plan that researched the generational barriers that have kept residents from advancing. The project found a need to increase safety, strengthen business, and improve housing.  These strategies for improvement and economic growth were mimicked in both the North and South sides of Avondale.

Rosemary, being born and raised in the community, understands that to truly change the trajectory of families and address the systemic injustices related to pregnant and parenting teens they must be in the epicenter; building from the root.

Vince Terry, Senior Associate at Moody Nolan Construction, says, “Some of the struggles in this generation is that it is hard to be what you can’t see so the more housing success and families and friends that are in homes, in good apartments, the better off the next decision-making happens for the next family.” 

Inside the house.

Bringing this vision to reality for teen parents, the community, and her grandmother has been no small feat for the non-profit CEO. She says, “The process made our organization level up and forced me to transform into a better CEO. But God, we made it and this project will come to life.” 

The vetting process for a business to get a property through The Port of Greater Cincinnati includes verifying construction, financials, and business sustainability. This organization’s battle took almost two years with the additional steps and opposition that included meeting due diligence by The Port, the City of Cincinnati, and the Cincinnati Economic Development Department. The criteria included Oglesby-Henry receiving business coaching with National Coach Cheryl Polote Williamson.

The most difficult of the terms was raising a $1M capital stack in six months. The organization successfully met this term through a host of funders for the new project including Bi3, Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Interact for Health, Cincinnati Bengals running back Semaje Perine, United Way of Greater Cincinnati, and IFF. Just recently, they were awarded $250,000 from the State Capital Budget. Project partners include Triversity Construction, Moody Nolan Architects, and KLH Engineers.

Even with the wins, including more than 100 letters of support from the community, opposition still exists from a few North Avondale residents who are members of the North Avondale Neighborhood Association (NANA), and North Avondale Business Association (NABA). This small group is adamant that the facility will not enhance their business district and does not align with the strategic plan for the community. Recently, the two groups voted to pass two resolutions that oppose the sale of the Rupel House property to RBC as well as funding for the project. They also voted to hire a lawyer to research zoning in the area, as it relates to group homes.  In response, Latonya Springs, Assistant Director of Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) sent a formal letter to the North Avondale Neighborhood Associations advising of complaints about rhetoric being used that opposes group homes and therefore discriminates against people with disabilities as well as families with children in this particular issue with Rosemary’s Babies. (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968.)

Rosemary’s Babies Co. intends to open the new facility in Winter 2023. The facility will provide wellness, education, and supportive housing. The plans for the renovation include two state-of-the-art stem labs, seven bedrooms, four ad one-half baths, a kitchen, and a kitchenette, plus three office spaces for rent. The organization continues with its capital campaign to raise $2M and has opportunities to partner for naming rights, renovation, donations, in-kind and programming partners.

Oglesby-Henry says, “Having a child at a young age should not be a life sentence to poverty. Neither should your ZIP Code. Every child deserves housing, support, and an opportunity to blossom. An opportunity to change their outlook.”

To support give, partner, refer, or learn more visit www.rosemarysbabies.co/changetheoutlook