March 9th, 2016 Brown Bag Lunch Forum: Housing Policy
This forum focused on different approaches to enacting Sate public policy for the benefit of underserved individuals in the housing market. The perspective of a state official through OHFA, a nonprofit organizations COHHIO and Thriving Communities will share their beliefs on how to develop approaches that enhance the quality of housing of all people.
Dorothy Curtis is the Community Development Officer and Credit Consultant for Dollar Bank. Curtis organizes and takes part in a variety of programs and events aimed at helping community members gain and fix credit and pursue home ownership. One program is Dollar Bank's Credit Enhancement Program. The Credit Enhancement Program is a series of confidential one-on-one sessions with a Dollar Bank credit consultant to review employment, credit history and available cash that then follows with personalized and focused education and assistance. Curtis is also responsible for the Mortgage for Mother's Event. The event educates attendees on how to obtain a home with an affordable mortgage and about down payment options. Attendees receive a free credit report and evaluation, as well as learn about counseling programs created to strengthen and restore credit. They also hear from Curtis about how to obtain and use grant money for closing costs, and how programs can help public housing residents and section 8 tenants and renter. Dorothy was responsible for moderating our event.
Jim Rokakis, Vice President of Western Reserve Land Conservancy and the Director of Thriving Communities Institute, has an incredible history of serving the Cleveland area. At the age of 22 he became the youngest member ever on the Cleveland City Council, and over 19 years he saw several successes in reversing neighborhood blight, redeveloping Downtown Cleveland, creating the Cleveland Housing Court and serving as chairman on the influential Finance Committee for his last seven years on Council. In 1997, Jim took office as Cuyahoga County Treasurer, and overhauled the entire office while greatly enhancing the county’s existing tax collection system by instituting state-of-the-art billing and collection processes. Jim helped write and pass House Bill 294, which streamlines the foreclosure process for abandoned properties and was a major force behind the creation of the Cleveland Land Bank. Jim discussed the importance of a broad based state coalition, such as land banks, working towards the enactment of specific legislation that would enable local communities to demolish vacant and abandoned properties
Bill Faith has served as COHHIO's executive director since 1994. Throughout his career, Bill has worked to develop housing solutions for people with disabilities; directed agencies serving the needs of the homeless and promoted affordable housing, especially for very low-income people. He has had extensive involvement with all of the key state and federal government agencies on a wide range of housing and homelessness assistance programs. On the national level, Bill has served as Chairman of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) for six years and also as President of the Board of Directors for the National Coalition for the Homeless. Bill spoke about the many efforts that COHHIO is taking to enact state legislative remedies to housing problems in Ohio, such as the Housing Trust Fund.
Sean W. Thomas began his career with OHFA in 1993 and primarily worked in the Office of Planning, Preservation and Development where he helped administer more than $4 billion in federal housing tax credits and $700 million in loans and grants. He also led the recent implementation of $240 million in funds provided through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act and Neighborhood Stabilization Program. In 2013, Mr. Thomas was named Chief of Staff and is responsible for assisting the Executive Director in overseeing all the Agency’s programs and operations. He received a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from the University of Rochester and certification from the National Development Council in Multifamily Housing Development Finance.