Grant Money Helps Family
Over the past seven years, Ms. Bills has struggled with accomplishing her number one goal of becoming a homeowner. No matter how hard she tried, it felt like there was always something or someone holding her back. Her low credit score was not helping her and moving from place to place showed instability and poor rental history. Ms. Bills’ situation turned for the worse, her car got stolen which caused her to lose her job as a forklift operator; her optimism toward her future was being tested.
In her efforts of getting a family home, Ms. Bills had taken first time homeowner classes at least three times, hoping and praying that she could purchase a home. She just could not seem to find the source of all her problems, and before she knew it, she slipped into poor health with depression. Just when she thought things could not get any worse, her youngest daughter was diagnosed with a long term and life changing health issue. Having a special needs daughter was truly an eye opener for Ms. Bills, she realized that she was the only one in her children’s lives who could provide them with a safe and stable home they deserve. By 2012, her health conditions had improved and her renewed spirit helped her focus on what was important for her children.
For the past three years of her life, she has worked extremely hard in rebuilding her credit score, she paid off her mini-van and stabilized her living arrangements to build an excellent rental status. In 2013, she received her CDL’s and is proud to be working for Columbus City Schools as a bus driver. As a member of East Columbus Development Company’s “RICH” IDA Program, she became more financially literate and a habitual saver. She completed Financial Fitness classes, and the First-Time Homebuyers classes. Ms. Bills expressed, “This has honestly been a challenging journey over the past seven years, but thanks to the ECDC program and all their support… I made it!” A single mother from Youngstown, Ohio who was determined to accomplish her number one goal and now owns her own home! Prayer Works!
ECDC, Franklin County Economic Development and Planning Department, PNC Foundation & PNC Bank
Sawyer Manor Community Center
East Columbus Development Company, Inc.
940 Caldwell Pl.
Columbus, Ohio 43203
East Columbus Development Company First Time Home-Buyer Program
McQuetta Williams’ story cannot be summed up in an article. We only select the most remarkable stories and hers is certainly worth it. In 2006 she was hit with an illness that led to her losing 3.5 units of blood; resulting in her becoming legally blind. She suffered from depression because she was not able to do every day normal activities such as shopping, cooking meals and cleaning. By 2011 she managed to enroll in school and attend while working a part time shift at night. Her desire to be a homeowner ignited and she went off to Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) to complete the homebuyers program to help with finance assistance. Though they didn’t have any funds for her, they guided her to East Columbus Development Company (ECDC).
She completed the Individual Development Account Program (IDA) at ECDC and she was ready to apply her grant money for first time home buyers. She brought both certificates from ECDC and MORPC to the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CHMA), got back in touch with a realtor she felt comfortable with from a year prior and she was on her way. She had 60 days to find a home through CMHA’s Choice Program, and although things got uncertain from obstacles, she found out she had a near perfect credit score. She ended up looking at four houses until she found the one she wanted. There was no need to look further, she spoke out loud, “that is my house” and the realtor prayed on it alongside her.
The house in now hers, she completed the IDA program in 2013 and got the house the same year. The home is in a very recent built development with all the features she was looking for. McQuetta also got her B.S. degree in 2013 with an emphasis on social work and business. She recently completed her magazine to help give back to the Dress For Success organization, and she wants people to know how much they helped her. The Magazine is called EnVision Proven Success and volunteers from many organizations came together to help complete the project. She has an aide that helps her with her daily tasks, and with all the passion it took for her to get to where she is today, she is even more devout in her faith that God has a hand in her life.
– Cyrus L.R.
Grant Money Helps Student Attend College
East Columbus Development Company Individual Development Account – Kiana Gordon Story (Education)
It was 2010 when Kiana felt very strongly in her heart to attend Valor Christian College in Columbus Ohio. She had heard about it a year prior through friends and at that time she lived in Camp Springs, Maryland so it was a shock that she was even considering to attend the college. She knew it was the Lord drawing her to Valor because she struggled with so much fear of making this huge transition. Maryland was all she knew! She grew up in Maryland… went to school in Maryland…. her family and friends were in Maryland. Torn between excitement and fear, she filled out an application and was accepted into Valor! After prayer she moved from Maryland to Ohio in 2012 to attend. It was a leap of faith as she did not know how she would fully pay for tuition. Financial Aid was not offered for a school like this so some creative financing had to be done.
Her second and third semester were really tough because she did not have any financial support. She worked and put as much money as she could towards her balance but in the third semester, there was still a huge balance. She met with a financial adviser at Valor who introduced her and led her to East Columbus Development Company (ECDC) IDA program where she could save $1000 and be matched 2:1 so that $3000 could be applied toward her tuition. Kiana took advantage of this opportunity and once she saved $1000 dollars, all funds ($3000) were paid to Valor Christian College! “What a relief” she said.
With just a semester away from graduation, through a work study program, ECDC and sponsorship from her church, family and friends she was able to pay for room and board along with her education.
Kiana already has a degree in Sociology from a University but she knew completing the 2 year Bible College was part of God’s plan for her. Her concentration is in Pastoral Leadership and we are excited to show support from ECDC and help her achieve her goals.
Kiana stated “Not only di dthe ECDC IDA program help her pay off the third semester balance, but it also gave her the opportunity to attend classes that taught her how to budget, save money, improve credit, and so much more! “Participating in this savings program made a BIG difference in my life and I met so many wonderful people. I am SO GRATEFUL! Thank you East Columbus Development Company for offering hope to those in needs!”
The future seems promising for Kiana and we were excited to have a hand in the outcome. All of her hopes and dreams were made possible through the sponsorships and funding of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Franklin County Economic Development and Planning Department (CDBG), City of Columbus Department of Development and PNC Bank.
Cyrus Littlejohn, a local Columbus filmmaker wrote his first screenplay titled “Aimless” about the phenomenon of Sleep Paralysis while in college. He did not know that he would struggle for years seeking a job after getting his Bachelor of Arts degree. As time passed and things did not pan out, he knew he had to focus on his film project. He started his own film company, 12 Stones Productions, and took marketing and producing into his own hands. His credit score was not loan worthy due to school loans and, although his business plan was polished, he had yet to meet a willing investor. After doing some research online, he learned of Individual Development Accounts (IDAs). He contacted East Columbus Development Company (ECDC) to get more information and soon was enrolled in the ECDC IDA program. The insights on economic development learned through the education programs at #ECDC were beneficial for his business. The credit repair, personal savings, and 2:1 matched grant money helped him get a top of the line camcorder, office devices, and a new website created by Creative Business Intelligence Web Company for his business. Cyrus is currently in the fundraising stage for his film project “Aimless” and is trying to get Columbus involved as much as possible.
While taking the IDA classes, Cyrus often donated his time and financial gifts to ECDC because he believed in the purpose of the organization. He’s a firm believer that people who are willing to take courses and demonstrate that they are responsible, by completing the IDA program, deserve grant money. Following his donation near the end of the program, he was asked by the Executive Director, Bernita Gatewood, to be on the Board of Directors. He gladly accepted, and has been helping the organization with marketing and major decisions as it relates to internet marketing and information technology. So not only did the ECDC’s IDA program help him with startup funds, but it led to a position that will help him become a community leader and more connected to resourceful people and other companies within Columbus.
Cyrus has expressed his thanks to the sponsorships and funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Franklin County Economic Development and Planning Department (CDBG), City of Columbus Department of Development and PNC Bank for making his hard-working and entrepreneurial experience a worthy journey thus far.
Ms. Mona Strider is just one of many success stories about the people who completed the Individual Development Account Program (IDA). After being laid off from her job at HUD in 2008, Mona would be taken every which way only to be brought to success. Responsible for taking care of many children, she had to find strength from somewhere to continue. She had not worked a job for years until the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) helped her obtain section 8 housing. CMHA informed Ms. Mona about her eligibility for homeownership through their Housing Choice Voucher program, which led her to East Columbus Development Company in 2012. Through the program, she learned financial literacy and home buyers education. She even took her granddaughter (whom she had full custody) along to stress the importance of money management. Ms. Mona was very pleased with the information she learned and quickly applied it to her current circumstances. That same year she approached the Columbus Urban League to seek and it led her to her current job at Maryhaven.
Ms. Mona was a long time renter and was tired of renting to only take care of her landlord’s property. She also always felt cramped in a one floor single-family and needed more living space. She had her eye on a property right across the street from her. It had gone for sale, and she showed interest only to be let down that the property was already in the process of being acquired. Time had passed and she noticed the “for sale” sign returned on the same property. This time, the house would be hers and her continued prayers would finally be paid off. She applied her Individual Development Account as a first time home buyer, and realized a 3-bedroom home with a finished basement and fenced backyard. She did not look at any other house or consider other properties, through the power of intention, she attracted what she felt was rightfully deserved. She moved into the home on August of 2013 and now has plenty of room for her dog and family. Ms. Mona has 5 children, 16 grandkids and 9 great grandchildren who are all able to look up to her and see an example of what the outcome can be when you are determined.
Ms. Mona’s hopes and determination were made possible through the sponsorships and funding of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Franklin County Economic Development and Planning Department (CDBG), City of Columbus Department of Development and PNC Bank.
Individual Development Account (IDA)
Here at East Columbus Development Company, we like to spotlight success stories to show how effective our programs can be, so we would like to share the story of Mr. Joey Green. After being jobless and homeless in 2009, Joey Green was able to keep a positive attitude with his uncertain future. He had made his goals where he wanted to be in the future and little by little, he was getting there. After bouncing around from jobs and enrolling in social programs such as the job readiness program, he found out about a program that would change his life.
While being involved in a neighborhood block watch he found out about ECDC’s Individual Development Account (IDA). A program that allows participants to save up $1,000 and then get matched 2:1 in grant money, which brings them to a total of $3,000 to be applied to business, education or for first time home buyers. The IDA Program is an income eligible program, after meeting the guidelines participants are expected to attend classes on financial fitness, real estate advice and credit score improvement to complete the program.
Mr. Green enrolled and started attending classes but another obstacle arose when he lost his job during the program, which is part of the requirements to enroll. Being a man of many skilled trades, from starting a handyman network and working with MR/DD kids, he landed a position with a pharmaceutical company. He was able to complete the IDA program in 2012 and was eager to apply the funds to home ownership.
After viewing many houses, he came across a home he knew would be his the moment he entered. It is in a nice diverse neighborhood, which was important to him, and he would be the third owner of the home after buying it. The house is well kept with plenty of bedrooms a basement, plenty of yard space and other unique characteristics. Mr. Green radiates nothing but positivity so he is a great testament on how you can bounce back from life’s setbacks when you have the right kind of attitude. He has been living there for a year now and hopes his story can influence others going through similar difficulties. He currently resides there with his wife Gina who he married on June 8th 2013 and who has shown him great support in the past 4 years.
A perfect opportunity to show that you care about the development of Columbus. ECDC has a broad range of opportunities for you to choose from to help you build your resume or just to show your support towards the organization. We are looking for people of all ages and backgrounds to help with data entry, organization, writing newsletters, responding to emails, answering phones, web developing and marketing. We have more than just administrative work available as well, so please call and let us know if you have questions or any ideas.
How can you add value to ECDC?
For those who would like to volunteer with East Columbus Development Company; please send resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org
After revamping the website and making some organizational changes… East Columbus Development Company is even more connected to the city of Columbus and its Community Leaders and Officials. Last year in 2012 ECDC served 2,872 clients. Helping them with personal growth and development, securing their homes as well as funding businesses through Individual Development Accounts.
ECDC was established in 1999 but they have yet to reach their potential with helping rebuild neighborhoods and getting the word out about their services and programs. The Executive Director Benita Gatewood has refocused the organization and will be introducing more programs such as the Senior Enrichment Program. Many people do not know of the resources at their disposal but that should soon change as this company has built quite the momentum by Building Communities One Block at a Time.
What changes would you like to see in Columbus?