$1 million will help open ‘Opportunity House’ for young adults
NEWPORT, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release) – A $1 million award will help open the Highland Heights Opportunity House in Campbell County.
The governor awarded the $1 million Community Development Block Grant to the City of Highland Heights, which applied for the grant in partnership with Brighton Properties, Inc.
BPI will lease an office space that has been vacant for 15 years, known as the Brown Building, and renovate it to create 16 affordable apartments in the new Opportunity House for low-income Kentuckians ages 18-24 who are pursuing a college degree or professional certificate.
“We want to lift up our fellow Kentuckians across the commonwealth. This project ensures greater access to safe, stable housing, breaking down barriers that often keep folks out of higher education,” Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday in announcing the grant. “This project can help those it supports break cycles of poverty, not only by helping those participating, but by lifting up future generations of Kentuckians.”
“The City of Highland Heights is proud to be a part of the Opportunity House project, which will be a vehicle for changing young lives in our region for years to come,” said Highland Heights Mayor Greg Meyers. “The name really says it all, it will be a special opportunity to shape the lives of those who end up calling Highland Heights their home and I look forward to seeing the dividends the Opportunity House and its social programs will pay in the form of skilled workers and productive citizens for our communities.”
The basement of the Opportunity House will provide training and meeting space for comprehensive social services and counseling for residents. Residents must participate in life skills training and secure part-time employment.
Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, who also serves as Kentucky’s Secretary of Education and Workforce Development, emphasized the significant need for Opportunity House in its community.
“Our administration will always put education first because every child and young adult in our commonwealth deserves our full support as they reach toward their potential,” said Lt. Gov. Coleman. “The Opportunity House will remove many financial and social obstacles that make it harder for some young Kentuckians to graduate from college or a technical school through no fault of their own.”
Lt. Gov. Coleman said there are more than 5,000 Kentuckians age 18-24 in Campbell, Boone and Kenton counties who are both unemployed and not in school.
Without support systems like the Opportunity House, these youth often struggle financially and emotionally into adulthood, especially if they turned 18 in foster care and were never adopted.
According to recent statistics provided by the National Youth in Transition Data Base, at age 19, 44% of youth that aged out of foster care were receiving public assistance; by age 21, the number grew to 59%.
In addition to leasing the Opportunity House, BPI, a 501(c)(3) affiliate of Brighton Center, will operate, manage and insure the facility. The CDBG will be provided by the City of Highland Heights to BPI in the form of a 20 year forgivable deferred loan, with 5% forgiven each year the Opportunity House is in operation.
The Governor highlighted that BPI will match 83% of the CDBG grant, investing $832,105 into the Opportunity House.
Brighton Center will also provide a licensed therapist to provide intake assessments of prospective residents and a full-time case manager to develop and monitor individual-specific plans, leading residents to educational success, employment and self-sufficiency.
Brighton Center estimates that these services over 20 years have a value of more than $2.2 million.
“We are so grateful for the transformational impact that this funding will provide in the lives of the young adults that will be served through Opportunity House. Access to this stable housing, quality post-secondary education and comprehensive supports will lead to their financial independence, and ensure they will achieve the best quality of life possible,” said Wonda Winkler, president and chief executive officer of the Brighton Center.
Beshear also thanked Neighborhood Foundations, Newport’s public housing authority, which will provide 16 project-based Section 8 vouchers to make the units affordable to residents, valued at more than $2.3 million over a 20-year period.
Finally, the governor recognized Northern Kentucky University (NKU), which is forgoing approximately $539,970 in rental income by leasing the property to BPI for 30 years at $1 per year, saying the university’s commitment to equity helped make the project possible.
“At NKU, we know that higher education is the clearest path to upward economic mobility,” said NKU president Ashish Vaidya. “Our responsibility is to innovate and find new ways to meet diverse learners where they are and to support their needs. This community partnership creates a beacon of hope and access to higher education for youth so that they can take the important step to a brighter future.”
The Department for Local Government (DLG) administers CDBG grants. Since the beginning of his administration, Gov. Beshear has announced more than $85 million in investment through DLG for approximately 200 projects that are helping to update infrastructure, support Kentuckians and diversify regional economies.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) is using state funding allocated in the 2020 Highway Plan to complete 70 school safety improvement projects in 44 counties across the state. To see the full list of projects, click here.
Beshear presented a $154,000 ceremonial check to Kenton County, representing a safety upgrade at a busy intersection in Fort Wright where pedestrians often include school children.
The project site is Kentucky Route 1072 (Sleepy Hollow Road) near its intersection with U.S. Highway 25 (Dixie Highway), one of the main routes in Northern Kentucky. St. Agnes School is less than a block from the intersection.
KYTC will build a new sidewalk along KY 1072 and will remove a crosswalk in the middle of the block. Families and students instead will walk toward the intersection and cross the road at a signalized crosswalk.
Beshear also presented a $160,000 ceremonial check to Campbell County, representing a pair of highway safety projects in the vicinity of three local schools.
KYTC will replace traffic signals at two intersections in Cold Spring and Alexandria with new signals that are more reflective and more easily seen by motorists.
Both intersections are on busy U.S. Route 27. In Cold Spring, the cross street is Crossroads Boulevard, near Crossroads Elementary School. In Alexandria, the signal is at the intersection of U.S. 27 and Main Street, near Campbell County Middle School and Bishop Brossart High School.
In each project, KYTC engineers will examine the sites to determine whether other pedestrian improvements would be feasible through construction or reconstruction of handicap ramps.