Dayton nonprofit, Homefull, breaks ground on affordable housing and food project
Dayton-based nonprofit, Homefull, broke ground on its latest community project in West of Dayton Thursday. The group is repurposing a vacant lot on South Gettysburg Avenue where it’ll build affordable housing, a grocery store and a health clinic.
Homefull is calling the $50 million initiative the 16-Acre Project. The site is at the 800 block of South Gettysburg Avenue, which is the former location of Carlson Elementary School.
The plan is to focus on three core areas: housing, food and jobs.
Construction is already underway, with crews setting up the foundation for a 48,000 square foot building, which is phase one of the project.
The two-story building will house the 12,000 square-foot Homefull Grocery & Market Place, the nonprofits administrative offices, a Kettering health clinic, Ziks Pharmacy and a regional wholesale food hub.
Lisa Rucker, a Pineview Neighborhood Association member and longtime resident, said this is a huge deal, especially for historically underserved West Dayton neighborhoods, which have long been areas that lack access to healthy and affordable food options.
“There are several smaller convenience stores, which can give you some things, but not the healthiest of choices,” Rucker said. “The food hub, the marketplace, the physician access will be great and it definitely helps cut the chain, so to speak, of the redlining mentality.”
The food hub will be run in partnership with What Chefs Want, which runs Local Food Connection — a local farm partnership program. The idea is to connect with small to midsize local farmers, buy their produce and then sell it to institutional buyers like hospitals, schools or restaurants.
Anna Haas, the local food program director for What Chefs Want, explained the goal is to establish a strong, resilient local food system, especially with historically disadvantaged farmers.
“There are so many people who have been left out of the local food scene for many reasons, from loans and access to land or losing land. And the emphasis is now to begin turning that around,” Haas said. “ So having an infrastructure in place that is in a community where growers and producers can access logistics and can access resources, that's incredible. And it's incredible that it's happening here in the Dayton metropolitan area.”
Homefull is also partnering with Sinclair’s Community College agriculture department to set up an experimental and learning farming space.
Phase two of the project will be the construction of 144 affordable housing units next to Homefull’s Family Living Center, which already has 34 affordable housing units.
Tina Patterson, the executive director of Homefull, said the project is about investing in communities. She adds it serves as an example when nonprofit, for profit and government agencies invest in social enterprise projects.
“I don’t believe it solves long term systemic problems,” But it's certainly a model to say how you can make investments that can bring health care, that can bring housing, food, all of that to a community,” Patterson said. “It takes that kind of commitment from the for profit sector, the government and nonprofits to recognize that there are disproportionate investments.”
By the summer of 2024 the grocery store is expected to be up and running. The project is expected to create about 200 permanent jobs once completed.
Alejandro Figueroa is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Support for WYSO's reporting on food and food insecurity in the Miami Valley comes from the CareSource Foundation.