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Rise Up Program Offers $5 Million Homeownership Boost in Franklin County


Robert Tavares

May 13, 2024 - 08:00 am


Franklin County Homebuyers to Receive $5 Million Boost from FHLB Cincinnati and Homeport

COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 13, 2024 - In an effort to foster homeownership and build generational wealth, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati (FHLB) alongside Homeport heralds the commencement of the Rise Up program in Franklin County, Ohio. With great enthusiasm, this initiative will introduce an advantageous opportunity for eligible residents as it avails $5 million in down payment assistance. Unveiled at Homeport's Columbus offices, the Rise Up program will extend $25,000 grants to qualifying households in Franklin County, aiding in down payments, closing costs, or principal reduction.

Andy Howell, President, and CEO of FHLB Cincinnati, addressed the press with a statement on the program's inception: "Empowerment through the Rise Up downpayment assistance pilot program, endorsed by our board, paints a hopeful future for 200 Franklin County families. This initiative marks a momentous step for many towards becoming first-time homeowners. Prioritizing those who are first in their family line to purchase a home, our aim is to champion the creation of generational wealth for communities historically marginalized from the homeownership arena."

Congresswoman Joyce Beatty of Ohio's 3rd congressional district commended the FHLB Cincinnati for their efforts to tackle the affordable housing crisis. "The Rise Up homeownership grant program is a significant stride towards equalizing the homeownership playing field. It provides essential support to first-generation and first-time homebuyers in Franklin County, allowing them to leap over financial hurdles, secure a home, and pave a path toward accruing generational wealth."

Netta Whitman, Director of Housing Advisory Services at Homeport, further emphasized the role of buyer education and financial support in successful homeownership. "Our goal has always been to ensure that prospective homeowners not only achieve homeownership but also embrace the responsibilities it entails with confidence. We are deeply honored to administer FHLB Cincinnati's Rise Up fund, a fundamental stepping stone for ushering first-generation buyers into the housing market."

Leah F. Evans, President & CEO of Homeport, reaffirmed their commitment to fostering equitable housing within Central Ohio. "Our organization doesn’t just focus on the construction of affordable homes, but we also take an active role in facilitating down payment assistance and delivering homebuyer education services. Homeownership stands as a cornerstone in crafting generational wealth, and it is through vital programs like the Rise Up fund that we're making this a reality for first-generation homebuyers, especially for those within the low to moderate-income bracket."

Program Eligibility and Requirements:

To be considered for the Rise Up program's funding, homebuyers must meet specific criteria:

  1. Identify as a first-generation and first-time homebuyer.
  2. Undergo homeownership education through either Homeport or a HUD-approved counseling agency.
  3. Possess a household income that does not exceed 120 percent of the HUD-defined Multifamily Tax Subsidy Project Income Limit (MTSP) for Franklin County, which stands at $123,960 for a family of four as of 2024.

Qualifying Property Guidelines:

The properties eligible under the program must adhere to the following:

  1. Be classified as a single-family home, accommodating 1- to 4-family units.
  2. Be located within the confines of Franklin County.
  3. Be taxed and titled as real estate.

Anna Teye-Kasongo, Director of Community Partnerships at the Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio, also shared her organization's support for the program. "CONVERGENCE Columbus is immensely proud to stand behind FHLB Cincinnati's Rise Up program. This initiative is expected to significantly impact the lives of first-generation homeowners and to further our collective quest to create equitable housing opportunities across our communities."

Rise Up Fund Allocation:

An additional $500,000 will be appropriated for the administrative execution of Homeport's program. Together with the $5 million designated for direct grants, these funds epitomize voluntary contributions which surpass the FHLB's mandatory allocation of 10 percent from its net earnings to bolster its Affordable Housing Program (AHP). The AHP, since its establishment in 1990, has channeled over $640 million in subsidies, facilitating the creation or preservation of in excess of 91,000 affordable housing units.

About the FHLB:

The Federal Home Loan Bank stands as a reputable AA+ rated cooperative wholesale bank whose ownership stems from 610 financial member institutions, comprising commercial banks, thrifts, credit unions, insurance companies, and community development financial institutions scattered across Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee. The FHLB empowers its members with a suite of financial products and services including Advances, notable for being a low-cost, immediate source of funds, mortgage loans purchases from members, and issuance of Letters of Credit. Products and services are financed through the FHLB's private-sector capital, contributions from member-stockholders, and, collectively with other Federal Home Loan Banks, releasing high-quality debt into international capital markets. In addition, the FHLB is a major facilitator of community investment programs that propel affordable housing and boost community economic development.

Who is Homeport?

Grounded since 1987, Homeport stands out as Central Ohio's premier non-profit developer of affordable housing. With a portfolio that encompasses 3,085 affordable rental apartments and homes within 47 communities, it provides a sanctuary to over 6,500 residents, which includes families and seniors. Homeport's collaboration extends services ranging from after-school programs to emergency rent and utility assistance. These alliances enable access to food, furniture, employment aid, as well as medical and mental health assistance. As a prominent provider of homebuyer education complemented by budget and credit counseling services, Homeport significantly contributes to the nurturing of Central Ohio's community.

Besides infrastructure, Homeport dedicates its resources to bridging the housing gap for low-to-moderate income individuals, families, and seniors, who earn at or below 100 percent of the area median income, with a particular focus on those earning 60 percent or less of the area income threshold.

For additional information regarding the Rise Up program and other Homeport initiatives, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati provides a comprehensive source at their official website.



The Rise Up program not only marks a significant step toward affordable housing but also signifies a vital progression in the broader context of societal equity. By easing the path of homeownership for countless first-time, first-generation buyers, FHLB Cincinnati and Homeport are not just addressing the surface symptoms but are actively remedying the underlying socioeconomic disparities. This initiative, underscored by robust community partnerships, demonstrates a collective commitment to reshaping the housing landscape in Franklin County. It is another testament to how strategic collaborations and investment in community development can yield transformational social benefits.

It is important to acknowledge that programs like Rise Up could potentially serve as blueprints for other counties and regions grappling with similar housing affordability issues. While this initiative directly impacts Franklin County, the narrative of community change and economic empowerment that it encapsulates has resonances that could inspire similar efforts across the United States and beyond. With continued commitment from all stakeholders, the vision for inclusive, equitable communities where homeownership is accessible to all could become an ever-closer reality.

The integral approach taken by Rise Up, embracing both financial assistance and educational support, ensures that beneficiaries are not only given the keys to a new home but are also equipped with the knowledge to sustain and thrive in their new environments. As the program unfolds, it will be imperative to track its progress and outcomes, measuring the tangible impacts it has on individual families and the community at large. The success stories that emerge from the Rise Up program could very well illuminate the path forward for the creation of more dynamic and inclusive housing programs nationwide.

While the Rise Up program is poised to make immediate changes, its legacy will be in the sustainable development of homeowner literacy and the ensuing ripple effects on community stability and growth. As Franklin County looks toward the future, the Rise Up program stands as a beacon of progress—an initiative that not only changes the financial trajectories for many but one that also reinforces the belief that homeownership, a cornerstone of the American Dream, should be attainable for all who aspire to it.

In closing, the commencement of the Rise Up program encapsulates a moment of collective hope and concerted action. The implications of this investment will extend far beyond the sum of money disbursed, fostering a culture of homeownership that is inclusive, informed, and resilient. It is a forward-looking approach, grounded in the belief that everyone deserves a fair chance at building a solid foundation for their future. For Franklin County, the Rise Up program is the dawn of a new chapter—one that holds the promise of security, prosperity, and community fortification, homes and hearts alike.