The Center's Words

Recognizing with gratitude Over-the-Rhine Community Housing!

by | May 15, 2024 | The Center’s Words

The  Center for Respite Care’s annual Transformation Awards event celebrates people and organizations who have truly transformed the Greater Cincinnati community. The virtual awards ceremony will premiere on the Center’s website Thursday, September 26, 2024, at 7:00PM. After which it can be viewed at any time. Among this year’s honorees, we are delighted to recognize Over-the-Rhine Community Housing (OTRCH).

Health Care for the Homeless Respite Care Providers Network Logo

“OTRCH provides a vital need in our community. The Center is proud to name them as one of our 2024 honorees. They have been our partner, supporter, and staunch advocate for individuals who rely upon affordable housing,” Laurel Nelson, CEO of the Center for Respite Care said.

OTRCH Community Housing Logo
OTRCH is a non-profit community development organization that provides a wide spectrum of affordable and supportive housing options with life-changing programs that help their residents succeed. For over four decades, OTRCH has never wavered from its commitment to:

  • Build a sustainable, diverse neighborhood that values and benefits low-income residents.
  • Create an inclusive community in this evolving historic district.
  • Advocate on behalf of its residents.

To meet this mission, OTRCH has restored over 90 properties (520 housing units) and assembled a broad mix of 20+ service providers/agency partners and volunteers to ensure that residents receive affordable housing along with access to health care, job services, education, faith-based services, and community associations that strengthen their ability to succeed.

We recently talked with Mary Rivers, Executive Director of the organization.

Please tell us about your background and your organization:

Our organization is the result of the merger of two long-standing community development corporations. One was ReSTOC founded in 1978 and the other was Over-the-Rhine Housing Network founded in 1988. Both were founded with the understanding that community-based solutions to the challenges the community faces would be impactful and long-lasting.

We merged in 2006 and brought the strengths of both organizations together to create Over-the-Rhine Community Housing.

We have a 15-member board. There are five seats for residents, five seats for what we call professionals (like lawyers and bankers), and then five seats for advocates.

Please explain the current role of the organization:

We align real estate development financing to create affordable housing — we provide property management and maintenance services for the properties that we own — and we provide in-house resident services including licensed social workers and credentialed addiction counselors.

This is what (we believe) has made us successful and somewhat unique in the industry. We provide what we call blended management —bringing together professional property management and social services. Providing property management services in-house informs our real estate development and keeps us connected to residents and the deep need for affordable housing. This is important because there’s so much compliance required with affordable housing.

We hire from within the neighborhood. Our property management and maintenance team know the neighborhood well.

Please tell us about your tenure:

It will be 31 years (this year.) I was a social worker at the county Department of Human Services until 1993. I worked in the children’s services division in the 241-Kids unit — and the sex abuse unit. Eventually — I was the housing specialist — so if a family came into the system of children’s services for any reason and— housing was an issue— they were referred to me. That’s really when I got engaged in understanding the need for affordable housing and advocacy around housing.

What is your impression of the Center for Respite Care?

There is a great need for the services that they provide. We’re grateful that they exist. We work with the same population— people experiencing homelessness —We’ve been allies since the beginning.

The Center takes care of our most vulnerable neighbors. People who need ongoing care — who are released from the hospital without a place to receive let alone get access to care. The founders (of the Center) stepped up and created a solution for a big gaping hole in our healthcare system.

What is your current impression of the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood?

I’ve been working in OTR for a long time and there was always a community of people who cared and took care of each other. The mainstream narrative rarely recognizes this. We’re grateful that the Center for Respite Care is in the neighborhood and continues in that tradition of caring for vulnerable people — like Our Daily Bread. There are still people here who care deeply about others.

Congratulations, we are thrilled to honor you and call you an ally:

It is an honor and I’m proud to be recognized.

I value the Center for Respite Care because they’re working side by side walking along with people who’ve been through so much.

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The Center for Respite Care is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization. View our 2022 IRS Form 990 – Public Disclosure.








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Center for Respite Care
1615 Republic Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

P.O. Box 141301
Cincinnati, Ohio 45250

(513) 621-1868

(513) 621-1872

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