GOPC offers technical assistance on Moving Ohio Forward Grant Program

The Ohio Attorney General’s office has contracted with the Greater Ohio Policy Center to assist communities in the southern half of Ohio with their applications and provide technical assistance to its $75 million Moving Ohio Forward Grant Program that supports Ohio’s communities undertaking activities to demolish abandoned and vacant residential properties.


Spotlight on Collaboration: Strong Government Relationships Carry Appalachia

Greater Ohio Policy Center staff went to Athens to provide one-on-one technical assistance as part of GOPC’s on-going contractual work with the Ohio Attorney General’s Moving Ohio Forward (MOF). In these meetings, GOPC provided strategic advice to demolition funding recipients in southeast Ohio. During these meetings, we were heartened to learn in more detail of the relatively high levels of collaboration and coordination that exist among local jurisdictions and their counties in this part of the state.

In Vinton County, local officials wear multiple hats, often performing the tasks of two or three positions all at once. The four employees in the county’s development department write and coordinate all state and federal grants, work closely with the Chamber of Commerce on business development, and oversee all community development, economic development, and fair housing programs. The county commissioners draw on their experiences as small business owners to create the county’s personnel materials and simple legal documents, instead of maintaining a human resources or legal assistant and use the county prosecutor as their legal counsel for review of all legal documents. Collegial relationships between township officials, village councils and the county commissioners keep lines of communication open between officials. While Vinton’s County’s small population (13,000) certainly makes it easier for local government to provide services to residents, its small tax base size also necessitates a well-coordinated, and at times, inventive, approach to utilizing resources.

In nearby Washington County, the Washington-Morgan Community Action Agency (WMCAA) has demolished 33 blighted homes in Marietta using NSP funding (a federal program aimed at stabilizing communities affected by foreclosure and abandonment). Brokering an agreement among local jurisdictions, WMCAA will use MOF funds to demolish 5-6 homes located outside the city. Although Marietta was eligible to receive MOF funds, city officials recognized that urgent need existed elsewhere in the county and worked in cooperation with the county commissioners to ensure that all available demolition funds were equitably utilized.

As a region that has long struggled with resource constraints, these local examples provide excellent models on how local governments can work together to ensure citizens receive the services they need. One of the fundamental points GOPC has emphasized during our technical assistance sessions is the importance of intergovernmental collaboration and coordination in maximizing grant dollars. We are excited to hear from many communities around the state that the demolition funding is, in fact, encouraging new relationships or further cementing existing relationships. Blight affects everyone in a community—whether through decreased property values, increased health and safety risks, or negative perceptions of the region—and so in recognizing common challenges and shared predicament, townships, villages, cities, and their counties can effectively work to find solutions that benefit the whole county.

 


Important Links

Slides from GOPC's first workshop presentation (Columbus, June 8) can be found here.

Slides from GOPC's second workshop presentation (Piqua, June 14) can be found here.

The Attachment 3 template created by GOPC can be found here.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions see FAQs.

For direct assistance, please contact Samantha Spergel at sspergel@greaterohio.org


Workshops

GOPC will be available to advise communities as they prepare their community strategic plan—a key component of the funding application to the Moving Ohio Forward Grant Program. In the month of June, GOPC held two seminars for applicants in the southern half of the state:

Workshop #1 held June 8th, in Columbus. Please see above for presentation links.

Workshop #2 held June 14th, in Piqua.  Please see above for presentation links.

These informational workshops further explained sample strategic planning documents and templates and will offer assistance to local leaders as they design their own strategic planning documents for the Moving Ohio Forward application. Cleveland-based Thriving Communities Institute is assisting communities in the northern half of Ohio. Click here to see which counties GOPC and TCI will be working in. There is no cost to grant applicants for GOPC’s or TCI’s expertise.


Other Information

The Moving Ohio Forward Grant Program is an important tool for addressing Ohio’s estimated 100,000+ blighted and problem properties. Abandoned and vacant properties often pose significant barriers to neighborhood revitalization and so, demolition funding from the Attorney General’s office will help encourage productive reuse of formerly vibrant properties in our cities, villages and townships.

Funding for the Moving Ohio Forward Program comes from a $25 billion national settlement with the nation’s five largest mortgage lenders and services over foreclosure abuses, fraud and unacceptable mortgage practices.

For more information on the Moving Ohio Forward Program please contact Samantha Spergel at sspergel@greaterohio.org