Insights: Akron-Canton | Community | Fall 2017

Social investing: Community Building Partnership of Stark County

Community Building Partnership of Stark County helps homeowners revitalize distressed neighborhoods through social investing

Community Building Partnership of Stark County
By Holly Hammersmith

When it was founded in the mid-2000s, Community Building Partnership of Stark County Inc. (CBP) was one of approximately half-a-dozen organizations working to make a difference in Canton through social and community investments.

“Residents wanted to do something to renew their neighborhoods, but they needed direction,” says Joel Owens, consultant and former executive director of CBP. “They needed trained staff who knew about planning and construction.”

Then the Great Recession hit, shaking the confidence of homeowners and the organizations that help them. By supporting the Stark County community in continued revitalization efforts, CBP helped it overcome difficult times to build beautiful, healthy communities.

What community building partnership does

As a neighborhood revitalization and community development organization, CBP provides to Stark County neighborhoods direct services such as lending solutions and programs for homeowners, and develops policies to promote investment in the community.

Recently, the organization helped Canton create its first citywide social investment plan in more than 50 years. The plan will help the city make social investments and strategically place businesses for growth, says Brenda Turner, CBP’s housing manager.

Other CBP initiatives include neighborhood cleanups, picnics and the creation of public art projects, such as murals, to beautify neighborhoods. In addition to its programs, CBP connects homeowners with cooperative buying opportunities (for discounts on services such as contracting) and financial incentives for home improvements.

How it helps

In July 2016, Huntington committed $25 million in loans to a CBP program that helps people buy or rehab homes in Stark County, including offering down-payment assistance grants. The recent commitment follows the bank’s previous $15 million pledge to the same program and is expected to assist an additional 250 homeowners.

“We’re helping people who can maintain a payment, but who need assistance to get over initial hurdles to home ownership,” Turner says. “To date, we have taken more than 500 applications and closed nearly 300 loans worth over $30 million.”

Many families have a powerful response to receiving assistance, she says. “People are overwhelmed by the support.”