In the fall of 1970, a small group of concerned members of Forest Hill Church, Presbyterian, gathered to assess the needs of Cleveland Heights and whether a church committed to open housing and racial harmony could do something to meet those needs.

Maintaining quality housing seemed to be key to the future of a vital integrated community. Home Repair Resource Center, (originally Forest Hill Church Housing Corporation, and later FHC Housing Corporation,) was established in 1971. It began with a demonstration project: buying and renovating a two-family home on Taylor Road into a single-family home. However, cuts in government programs brought the planned ten-home project to an abrupt end.

Diana Woodbridge

Diana Woodbridge, founding trustee and first executive director

The organization refocused its efforts in 1973, resulting in the birth of the Challenge Fund. The Board of Trustees foresaw that the private sector could meet citizens’ home repair needs — and thus the City’s housing preservation needs — when they could not be met in conventional ways. With a $5,000 challenge grant from Forest Hill Church, a fund was created to guarantee bank loans for homeowners who did not qualify under normal criteria.

In 1990, the organization purchased and renovated a facility at 2520 Noble Road to house its staff and financial counseling offices, Teaching Center, and Resource Library.

Over the years, Home Repair Resource Center built a broad base of support from individuals in the community and became the primary advocate for housing in Cleveland Heights. Grants from the Cleveland Foundation provided major support for the Challenge Fund, and the George Gund Foundation provided funding to initiate a tool loan and to support the development of the Project Repair program. Operating support provided by Community Development Block grant funding through the City of Cleveland Heights allowed Home Repair Resource Center to offer financial assistance programs that help homeowners complete repairs to their homes.

Our assistance makes a real difference in the lives of community residents. Our financial programs, counseling, and educational opportunities provide the resources many need to maintain not only the physical structure of their homes, but also a positive living environment for families. They emphasize self-help, and promote increased self-reliance and competence in dealing with home repair needs. Clients grow in self-esteem as they learn to manage the process of contracting home repairs, as they pay back their loan, and as they gain experience working with tools and repair techniques. And, we have seen the difference our efforts make in the larger community, instilling pride in neighborhoods and affording volunteers an opportunity to make a “hands-on” contribution at the local level.

In recent years, HRRC’s focus has broadened, as we now offer programs to residents of other communities and focus on ensuring the sustainability of older housing throughout the region. Home Repair Resource Center still works in close partnership with the City of Cleveland Heights, so that the repair needs of the community are well served; residents have the flexibility to qualify for programs of both organizations at one time or to move from one program into another, as appropriate to individual circumstances and the repair needs of the property. We have also initiated partnerships with other communities. As a result of a 2014 agreement with the City of Shaker Heights, for example, residents of that city qualify for reduced tuition for HRRC’s repair workshops, and educational programs are periodically held in that community.

A 2012 video, produced by Home Repair Resource Center in conjunction with HRRC’s 40th Anniversary, contains more details about the organization’s history. The program for the 40th Anniversary Celebration also has information on our history.