Columbus Scholar House

In more recent years, improving education outcomes, particularly for low-income children from families living in areas of concentrated poverty, has emerged as a leading topic of concern for researchers, policymakers, and educators. This awareness stems from recognition that neighborhood conditions influence children’s life outcomes as much as school choice. Affordable housing practitioners are developing strategies, including both housing mobility demonstrations and place-based interventions that focus activities to improve educational access and neighborhood quality to promote the well-being of families and children.

Columbus Scholar House, a unique housing tax credit development combining housing and education to expand opportunities for upward mobility, is a prominent example of a community directed, place-based intervention.

The model finds its origins in Kentucky, and was successfully piloted in Columbus, Ohio through a partnership with Community Properties of Ohio (CPO), Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority, OCCH, and the Affordable Housing Trust of Columbus and Franklin County. The original phase, which launched as a pilot in 2012, received Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funding to renovate a historic building into a mixed-use space that now holds the Future Scholars Community Learning Center and ten residential units for first-generation college students and parenting adults.

Scholar House residents must be 18 years of age, low-income, the custodial parent of at least one child, and be enrolled in a degree-seeking program at an accredited college or university. Through collaboration with the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority, all residents are qualified for a Section 8 Project Based Voucher to offset their housing costs, as well as affordable on-site childcare through a partnership with the YMCA of Central Ohio along with supportive services and supports that help parenting-students overcome barriers to completing their degree. Private on-site amenities include a fitness room, computer room, and playground with walking path.

Twenty-three residents of Columbus Scholar House have received college degrees.

CPO inspires a culture of achievement through supportive networks and programs that help create successful learning opportunities for children.

“My young childhood life was very unstable... bouncing around a lot, one city to the next, almost on a yearly basis. I would say that home means to me that I finally found a place that I can be secure and comfortable. Since being with CPO, being able to be stable and prosperous is what gave me the ability to be more self-confident and to feel like I could breathe freely.”

Kathleen Palmer
Resident, Community Properties of Ohio