June 28, 2021 — Acting on his commitment to support stable housing and higher education for vulnerable young Kentuckians, on Monday, Gov. Andy Beshear announced a $1 million award to help open the Highland Heights Opportunity House in Campbell County.
The Governor awarded the $1 million Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to the City of Highland Heights, which applied for the grant in partnership with Brighton Properties, Inc. (BPI). 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,” said Gov. Beshear. “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 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 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.
“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.”
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.
Gov. 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.
About NKU: Founded in 1968, NKU is an entrepreneurial state university of over 16,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus nestled between Highland Heights, Kentucky and bustling downtown Cincinnati. We are a regionally engaged university committed to empowering our students to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives. While we are one of the fastest-growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information, visit nku.edu.