Special to 1812Blockhouse

The Ohio District 5 Area Agency on Aging, Inc. has announced that its Repurposing Vacant City Lots into Affordable Housing Program recently received a 2021 Aging Innovations Award from the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), the highest honor presented by n4a to member agencies. The awards program is supported by iN2L, provider of the leading engagement and social connection platform for seniors, offering a foundation for activities that facilitate social interaction, cognitive and physical exercise, education, reminiscing, areas of interest, and memory support engagement.

Repurposing Vacant City Lots into Affordable Housing Program, which addresses a critical need for safe and affordable housing for aging adults through an innovative development of Ritter’s Run Apartments. This program was among the top 15 of 36 local aging programs to receive honors during the n4a Annual Conference and Tradeshow, July 19-22.

The 2021 n4a Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards recognizes Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and Title VI Native American Aging Programs that develop and implement cutting-edge approaches to support older adults, people with disabilities, and their family caregivers. Among the selection criteria was the ease with which other agencies could replicate the program in their communities.

“n4a is proud to recognize the innovative, successful, and replicable programs and initiatives of our members through the Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards. We salute the winning AAAs who have enhanced the value of this awards program by sharing their initiatives with their peers in the Aging Network,” said Sandy Markwood, Chief Executive Officer of n4a. “Our members work tirelessly, with little fanfare, in their communities, and this program enables us to shine a well-deserved spotlight on their critical work to support older adults, people with disabilities, and caregivers,” said Markwood.

Ritter’s Run Apartments, located on Ohio Street between Sturges and Blymyer in Mansfield, is a pioneering development of 12 single-story apartments designed to serve a low-income aging population, and is in alignment with the City of Mansfield’s Consolidated Plan 2019-2023.  Ritter’s Run is made possible through the collaboration and partnership of many entities. The Richland County Land Bank donated the land for the apartments, which has been a targeted area by the City of Mansfield for revitalization and redevelopment. The Agency applied for and was awarded HOME Funds from the City of Mansfield. The dedication of these HOME funds will make it possible for rents to be kept below the market rate and affordable to low-income adults.  The remaining costs were secured with a first mortgage from Mechanics Bank of Mansfield.  The Agency’s extensive experience coordinating services to area seniors has highlighted the importance of stable, effective, and affordable housing to sustain the quality lives of seniors.  As a result, the Agency developed this program to directly provide affordable senior housing. The Agency will also coordinate the provision of supportive services to the residents of these apartments, to safeguard healthy and independent lives.  Praxia Partners, of Columbus, OH continues to serve as our Community Building Partners throughout all development stages to ensure maximum efficiency of construction and operation of the project.

“Ritter’s Run was made possible through a strong partnership between the Ohio District Area Agency on Aging, Inc., the Richland County Land Bank, the City of Mansfield, Mechanics Bank, and Praxia Partners.  Affordable housing is a critical need in our communities.  The Agency has a vision to be part of development within its 9-county region,” said Duana Patton, Chief Executive Officer of the Area Agency on Aging. “Ritter’s Run’s development will allow seniors to age in place and will also provide supportive services connecting them to nutrition, health care, and advocacy for residents,” said Patton.

The 2021 n4a Aging Innovations Awards honored traditional and new strategies in a range of categories, including Agency Operations, Caregiving, Community Planning, and Livable Communities, Diversity and Cultural Competency, Healthy Aging, Home and Community-Based Services, Housing, Intergenerational Programs, Nutrition, Social Engagement, and Transportation and Mobility.

All winners are showcased in the n4a 2021 AIA awards book 

 The Ohio District 5 Area Agency on Aging, Inc., located at Hawkins Corner in Ontario, serves the North Central Ohio area including Ashland, Crawford, Huron, Knox, Marion, Morrow, Richland, Seneca and Wyandot Counties, providing assistance to aging individuals and disabled individuals. Contact the Area Agency on Aging at (419) 524-4144 or (800) 560-5799.  Find us on Facebook.

Source: Ohio District 5 Area Agency on Aging; Image by Capri23auto from Pixabay

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