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Urban Solutions for the 21st Century: UC Celebrates Building Community by Building Homes

TyAnn Edwards becomes a first-time homeowner through the sixth home UC volunteers built in partnership with Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity.

Date: 6/29/2009 12:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover

UC ingot   TyAnn Edwards and her 13-year-old son, Dwight Williams, are not only making a summer move into a brand-new home built in partnership with the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity, but they’re also moving onto a brand-new street – Wolseley Lane (near Hale Street), created by Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity. Two new Habitat homes are located on the street in Avondale, with space for a third Habitat home in the planning. Edwards, along with representatives of UC and Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity, joined together for a June 27 dedication and open house.
TyAnn Edwards' home
TyAnn Edwards' home

Edwards is moving into a home with UC student-inspired updates for the physical challenges that occur when using a wheelchair. Edwards uses a wheelchair after being paralyzed from the waist down following a car accident 22 years ago.

The updates to the three-bedroom, one-bath ranch-style home include a handicapped-accessible concrete ramp that is integrated seamlessly into the landscape. A slightly vaulted ceiling opens up the interior of the home. Overhangs on the south side of the home provide for additional shade in the summer.

Edwards with her son, Dwight Williams, and UC V.P. Mitchel D. Livingston
Edwards with her son, Dwight Williams, and UC V.P. Mitchel D. Livingston

“We went through a process with UC architecture students to come up with creative and innovative ways to take the basic model of a Habitat design of an affordable, accessible home and add some special elements to make it more attractive and more creative in its design. When you get students behind something, you know how remarkably creative they can be,” said Thomas Hadley, associate vice president of student services, who acknowledged the contributions of the UC College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) and the UC Community Design Center for the 2008-2009 UC/Habitat build.

“When we express the highest ideals of what the academy is all about, it’s about building community – community on the campus and community in which we are engaged. There is no finer way to express our ideals than to be with you here this morning,” said Mitchel D. Livingston, Chief Diversity Officer and vice president of Student Services.

“Our UC volunteers, we want to thank you again,” Livingston continued. “Some of the best learning you’re going to have as a UC student will be right here in an experience like this.”

UC presented Edwards with a gift of motion-sensor porch lights to assist Edwards’ wheelchair as she enters her home in the evenings. Helen Spieler, family services manager for Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity, presented Edwards with a Bible and with a framed poster, which held the inscription, “Of all the keys to all the locks in all the world, the one that opens my home opens my heart.”

TyAnn Edwards

“What once were vacant lots or neglected, abandoned and vandalized properties have now become tree-lined streets with well-kept Habitat homes and vibrant families enjoying backyard barbecues and basketball games,” said Tom Salzbrun, executive director for Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity, adding that TyAnn Edwards is now moving from surviving to thriving.

“I am so happy and excited,” said Edwards. “I just want to thank all of the UC students and everyone who participated in this home.”

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