Pilot program’s aim is to support public housing residents
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Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023

Contact: Mike Nowlin

Cell Phone: 989-450-0855

Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority and U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty announce new $1 million federal grant to launch Ready, Set, RISE initiative

Pilot program’s aim is to support public housing residents in pursuit of generational wealth building, connecting them to careers and financial supports that help scale the ‘benefits cliff’

COLUMBUS, OH – The Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) and U.S. Congresswoman and Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Joyce Beatty (OH-03) announced today that a $1 million federal grant will support CMHA’s new Ready, Set, RISE initiative to help residents overcome the sudden decrease in public benefits that often accompany an increase in earnings – also known as the “benefits cliff” – a barrier that keeps many families living in poverty.

The Ready, Set, RISE program was among 15 projects and programs recommended for Congresswoman Beatty’s support and funded through a historic bipartisan federal omnibus appropriations package (H.R. 2617). The program was also endorsed by the Columbus Region Coalition (CRC), a group of local governments, members of the business community and other community stakeholders. The purpose of the coalition is to use its collective resources and advocate for strategic investment for the Columbus region.

“On behalf of CMHA and the residents and families we serve, we want to thank Congresswoman Beatty for her leadership and diligence in helping us secure federal funding that will jumpstart our new Ready, Set, RISE program,” said CMHA President and CEO Charles Hillman.

“One of the Central Ohio region’s most distinct assets is the spirit of teamwork and collaboration,” Hillman said.

“We epitomize the Columbus Way by working together with one voice for the region and partnering with Rep. Beatty and the Ohio Congressional delegation in advocating for strategic investments in our communities,” he said. “This year, that one voice has come together to promote powerful projects such as our Ready, Set, RISE program that will have a lasting impact on Central Ohio residents.”

Specifically, CMHA’s Ready, Set, RISE initiative will consist of programming and resources to help prevent what’s also commonly known as the “cliff effect.”

“This occurs when people are receiving benefits from the government, earn a raise, and then incur a substantial decrease in their benefits that outweighs their gains through employment. But at the same time, the challenge then becomes they are not making enough money to sustain themselves and their household,” Hillman said.

“By identifying, predicting, and addressing episodes of the benefits cliff, the Ready, Set, RISE initiative will minimize the negative financial impacts associated with residents’ journey to economic self-sufficiency,” he said.

The funding Congresswoman Beatty helped CMHA obtain will be used to:

  • Develop a calculator that individuals and families can use to predict when episodes of the benefits will occur.
  • Create career pipelines that will move CMHA residents to economic self-sufficiency, in partnership with local community organizations.
  • Hire staff who will provide on-site career counseling for CMHA residents.
  • Operate employment readiness and workforce development programming that will improve residents’ career prospects.
  • Predict, prepare for, and subsidize lost benefits when necessary to stabilize households.
  • Secure a data management system to track the initiative’s progress.
  • Conduct an evaluation to identify and measure short- and long-term outcomes associated with the initiative.

In addition to the housing subsidy that comes through CMHA from funding by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), CMHA residents receive a variety of government benefits.

This includes but is not limited to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Women, Infants & Children (WIC) program, Social Security Act Title XX, Medicaid/Medicare, and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program that helps needy families achieve self-sufficiency.

Ready, Set, RISE is a collection of programs that identify and address systemic barriers that residents encounter in pursuit of generational wealth. The goal of the program is to provide residents with access to employment opportunities and programs that lead to a living wage, and offer financial support to offset the sudden loss of public benefits often accompanied by an increase in earning.

The bipartisan legislation supported by Congresswoman Beatty produced more than $18.5 million in funding for community projects located in Franklin County, including the grant to kick off CMHA’s Ready, Set, RISE program.

“I am proud to have secured $1 million to kick off Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority’s Ready, Set, RISE Program,” Congresswoman Beatty said. “These federal dollars will support the important mission of CMHA to provide greater opportunities for Central Ohioans to realize the dream of home ownership.”  

Because an increase in income often results in a larger decrease in benefits, residents who pursue economic independence are often forced to make impossible decisions for how to best care for their families.

Ready, Set, RISE will remove barriers to work which will ultimately increase the number of residents who are employed and move to economic self-sufficiency. Increasing the number of residents who are employed will, in turn, expand the tax base and generate additional tax revenue.

The program will be implemented through CMHA’s non-profit The RISE Center. The RISE Center is a one-stop shop that connects CMHA residents to community resources by creating sustainable partnerships and programs that embody the values of choice, empowerment, and inclusion to support residents’ success in all aspects of their lives. The RISE Center will be managed by CMHA’s Vice President of Resident Initiatives Sonja Nelson. 

“Using the foundation of housing stability, residents are empowered to receive the resources and support to identify and pursue their own goals,“ Nelson said.

“Housing subsidies provided by HUD are not entitlement programs, which means they are not able to serve all who are eligible,” she said. “Ready, Set, RISE will move residents to economic self-sufficiency so that once they transition off their housing subsidy the same dollars can be reallocated to serve additional residents.”

Ready, Set, RISE implementation will consist of a startup period and a two-year pilot program. The $1 million grant will fund the first year of the pilot program.

During program implementation, CMHA will seek additional funding to continue to operate the program once the first year of the pilot concludes. The project’s startup funding, staff and marketing costs, and ongoing program operation costs will be funded through a combination of CMHA funds, sponsorships, and grants. CMHA will also leverage funding from partner organizations included in Ready, Set, RISE to implement the program.

The Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services, Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio, and Health Impact Ohio (Central Ohio Pathways HUB) all recommended the Ready, Set, RISE program for federal funding and will serve as partners for the initiative.

CRC members also proclaimed support for the CMHA Ready, Set, RISE initiative to Congresswoman Beatty included:

  • The City of Columbus 
  • Franklin County 
  • Central Ohio Transit Authority
  • Columbus Chamber of Commerce
  • Columbus Partnership 
  • Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority
  • Columbus Regional Airport Authority
  • Columbus State Community College
  • The Ohio State University
  • Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission
  • Nationwide Children’s 
  • OhioHealth
  • Mount Carmel Health System
  • Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO)
  • Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio

For more information about CMHA’s Ready, Set, RISE initiative, please contact the RISE Center at risecenter@cmahnet.com.

For more information about CMHA, visit www.cmhanet.com.


About Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA): CMHA helps people access affordable housing through collaborative partnerships, promotes neighborhood revitalization and assists residents in accessing needed social services. CMHA has more than doubled its portfolio of housing over the last five years. It owns over 4,500 units of affordable housing and through its Housing Choice Voucher and Project-Based Rental Assistance Programs provides rental assistance to over 160,000 Ohio and Washington, D.C., residents. Approximately 71% of the units in the CMHA portfolio are affordable to renters making 80% AMI or less.

Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority
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