Alice Poindexter spent 30 years abroad, then returned to her home in South Linden, where she had spent much of her childhood.
In the 1950s, the humble two-story home near the corner of Hamilton and 14th Avenues came to life to embody her youth, and Poindexter was delighted that little of its charm was faded or replaced by renovations when she bought it in 2001. Poindexter is one of nine siblings and their oldest sister had lived in the house for years but was preparing to move to a new building in Canal Winchester.
“It sparked so many memories,” said Poindexter, 75.
However, as Poindexter and her husband Knud Manniche – a man she met and married in Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen – settled in over the years, she found that the aging house needed repair. But after retiring from a career in childcare, she didn’t have the money to pay for the home improvement herself.
At the beginning of the year, she received a flyer in the mail for a program that would offer qualified residents of Linden free home repairs. She didn’t think she would be an option, but a day later she found that she had nothing to lose to at least apply.
To her delight, she was approved.
In late spring, a team spent a few days replacing the beige exterior cladding of their home with a bright burgundy exterior that they thought was reminiscent of an iconic red barn. The workers also replaced outside lights and added window and door panels.
“Every time I looked at the house I said I wish I could do it,” said Poindexter. “I was so happy when I was accepted – it gave my house a whole new look.”
Poindexter’s home has been renovated with the kind permission of Healthy Neighborhoods Healthy Families (HNHF), a nationwide children’s hospital program that invests in improving housing and the quality of life in low-income neighborhoods. The program launched on the South Side in 2008 In 2019 the linden tree was added as an extension of the district A linden tree to plan.
The hospital’s program is a kind of collaboration with the help of religious groups, community development and workers organizations, non-profit youth organizations and local public schools.
Often times, a person’s zip code of residence determines their general health and life expectancy, which depends on available health care, income, transportation, housing, crime, and more.
Whether someone has adequate plumbing or a functioning refrigerator also has an overwhelming impact on their health, says Dr. Mysheika Roberts. Because of this, Roberts said, it’s important for hospitals like Nationwide Children’s to invest in preventive measures like Healthy Neighborhoods and Healthy Families, rather than simply treating patients when problems arise.
Over time, HNHF will help undermine the zip code-health correlation and it is important to watch out for school attendance. There is also already some evidence that health problems such as childhood asthma are starting to decline on the South Side, Roberts said.
“Health is more than healthcare. It’s really about the environment you live in. … I would like to get more public health money, but I know we can’t do it on our own, ”said Roberts. “That’s why Nationwide Children’s is trying to do something about public health, and I love it.”
Start on the south side to reduce dangerous house conditions
Hospital leaders decided to start the program when they saw more children with preventable health problems seeking treatment at Nationwide Children’s.
One day, a child with lead poisoning could show up to the emergency room after chewing on a windowsill that contained the stuff, said Patty McClimon, senior vice president of strategy and facility planning. Another day she said it could have been a child who fell off a porch or another youth who was involved in gang violence.
The rise in these types of incidents, McClimon said, made officials realize that the hospital and its services weren’t well integrated into their own community.
“We realized that we are a world-class health care provider here and that children in our own backyard have preventable health problems,” said McClimon.
Since its inception 13 years ago, the program has built or improved more than 400 buildings in communities around the hospital, according to Nationwide Children’s. Nationwide Children’s is now bringing the program to Linden, where it aims to support families in this particular area of Columbus.
The program will remain a focus of the hospital and has been included as a key item in Nationwide Children’s updated strategic plan this week, which includes $ 3.3 billion of investment in programs, research and new buildings through 2026 recently announced that $ 2 million of a $ 10 million donation from the Nationwide Foundation will be used to support its Healthy Neighborhoods, Healthy Families initiative as it continues to expand its efforts in the Linden neighborhood.
When Nationwide Children’s first launched its healthy neighborhood push, it looked out over its immediate area on the South Side.
For help, the hospital turned to Community Development for All People, a nonprofit group run by the United Methodist Church on Parsons Avenue that has long gone through much of its efforts on home renovation, repair, and construction focused on the South Side.
In 2019 Mike Premo photographed a new building on the South Side to advertise on social media Community development for all people. He didn’t know at the time, but Premo actually photographed the house that he would soon buy himself.
Premo, 50, the non-profit organization’s engagement director, had rented a maisonette in the Hungarian village on the south side of Columbus because he never missed home ownership.
The Deshler Avenue home was built on vacant lot and was the first home sold as part of the Central Ohio Community Land Trust, said Premo, which ensures the home is consistently affordable for income-eligible buyers.
For Premo, there is no doubt that the affordable housing option was the difference between a homeowner and a tenant for him.
“Without this program, I couldn’t have bought a house,” says Premo, who shares custody of a ten-year-old daughter. “That probably made the difference and it was a great pleasure for me to be able to live in this house.”
Do-it-yourself a “long-term game” for children’s health
McClimon and her colleagues know they may not see the benefits of the Healthy Neighborhoods and Families Initiative for years, but that’s fine.
She sees the program as a “long-term game” with the ultimate goal of improving the health of children who will eventually grow up.
It is one thing, McClimon said, to be able to treat adults who have preventable diseases. But it’s more helpful when programs like Healthy Neighborhoods Healthy Families can prevent them in the first place, McClimon said.
It may take decades for this progress to be seen, but it does mean children may no longer have the same health problems their parents once faced. Health care also benefits Nationwide Children’s, as healthy patients cost less the hospital over time, McClimon said.
Nationwide Children’s has often found that people want to keep living in their homes. You just can’t afford a $ 15,000 worth of roof or siding replacement, said Patrice Allen Brady, a project manager for the Healthy Homes Initiative who is working on expanding the project in Linden.
“You are really grateful,” said Allen Brady. “I meet a lot of people who have long-time residents who love the community and want to stay there.”
Poindexter is one of the residents who are grateful for their commitment.
When she returned to her parents’ home 20 years ago, the house may have been the same, but she said the surroundings had changed – and not for the better.
Gone are the days, she said, when everyone seemed to know their neighbors by name. Children no longer play under the street lamp, she said for fear of the danger that might lurk nearby.
But she hopes the Healthy Neighborhood Healthy Family project will help transform the neighborhood’s homes and, with it, the neighborhood’s culture.
“We have a lot of empty houses that are boarded up and most of the houses are renters now,” said Poindexter. “With this program, if you continue to renovate these houses, we will have a completely new neighborhood in a few years.”