The City of Sandusky has been awarded a $3,590,000 grant from the State of Ohio’s Welcome Home Ohio (WHO) program. Sandusky is one of 17 recipients selected to share nearly $29.5 million in funding aimed at improving access to housing for income-eligible Ohioans. This funding is part of the first round of the WHO program, which will invest a total of $100 million in grants over two years to help land banks purchase, rehabilitate, or build qualifying residential properties.

“The City is grateful to the State of Ohio for providing funding and specifically for the award to the City of Sandusky. Housing is a priority of the City Commissioners and City Administration,” said City Manager John Orzech. “I would like to thank our Community Development staff and our development partners for their devotion and expertise in applying for this grant opportunity and bringing affordable housing dollars to our community. We know housing is an important issue in our city, as it is across the country. Of course, this project won’t solve the issue overnight, but it’s good step in the right direction in bringing more housing to Sandusky.”

The City partnered with NeighborWorks Toledo Region and Community Building Partners to develop the plan and grant application earlier this year. “NeighborWorks Toledo Region (NTR) is honored to work in partnership with the City of Sandusky to build affordable single-family homes for first-time homebuyers in 2024,” said William Farnsel, CEO of NeighborWorks Toledo Region. “NTR is uniquely qualified to provide the HUD-certified counseling that will facilitate a smooth transition from renter into homeownership. Congratulations to the City of Sandusky and their team!”

The City is working with its partners to finalize the details of the project. In the grant application, the City proposed using the grant to develop 14 new single-family modular homes and assist Habitat for Humanity in constructing three homes on Sandusky’s south side. Ohio-based UniBilt Custom Homes will produce the modular homes and Community Building Partners is committed to using Erie County trades, with a preference for Sandusky-based businesses, to complete the construction. NeighborWorks will also provide financial literacy programming for future homebuyers.

“Developing housing of all types is a priority for the City,” said Director of Community Development Colleen Gilson. “The Welcome Home Ohio Program grant assistance will allow for the development of homes at a price point accessible to buyers at or below 80% of area median income. We still have a lot of work to do and many details to figure out, but we are very excited to move this project forward.”

The first phase of the project will begin on W. Osborne Street, the site of a former bakery that was demolished in 2023. This phase will include the construction of three duplexes, totaling six units. These homes will be sold at approximately $150,000, making them accessible to buyers earning at or below 80% of the area median income. The second phase will develop additional single-family homes on nearby land bank lots.

In addition to this initiative, the City is also working with Community Building Partners on the redevelopment of the old Osborne School, with plans to convert the building into housing units for seniors. “We are proud to work with our valued partner NeighborWorks Toledo and the City of Sandusky in co-creating a working solution for families who wish to commit to homeownership,” said, Community Building Partners CEO Joseph Recchie. “We see our project as an innovative model for adding value to neighborhoods and addressing the increasing barriers to homeownership for working families.”

Praxia Partners