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The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that five local nonprofit groups are getting $120,000 in grants from the city that will be used to restore houses while teaching construction skills to at-risk youths and former offenders. The grants came from the Learning Skills to Lift Neighborhoods program. City officials believe the win-win situation will help improve the neighborhood while providing trained personnel to an industry suffering from a labor shortage.

Two of the houses — one in the Linden area, the other in Franklinton — are Columbus land-bank properties. The Franklinton property, on Wisconsin Avenue, will be renovated by Franklinton Rising, which also will fix one on Chicago Avenue.

Tom Heffner, Franklinton Rising’s president, said both homes in the neighborhood will be gutted and rebuilt. His group will then rent the houses to workers, and it will sell the houses to them at a below-market price if they stay there for three to five years. “We’re taking at-risk adults and preparing them for careers in the building trades,” Heffner said.

This is the second year for the program. In 2017, Franklinton Rising received $40,000 to help fix a fire-damaged duplex on Chicago Avenue. Lower Lights Ministries now uses that home for women in recovery.

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