Last year Move to Prosper, which is an initiative of Ohio State University and community partners, relocated 10 female-headed households from “low-opportunity neighborhoods” into “high-opportunity neighborhoods.” Kateresa Lee and her daughter were one such family.

The smell would always hit her first.

Kateresa Lee tried to ignore the musty, dank odor inside of her Reynoldsburg apartment, just like she tried to ignore the seedy characters engaging in handshake deals outside of her unit. She’d keep her head down, avoid eye contact and enter through the back door for the safety of her young daughter, Mackenzie.

But arriving home after working a full-time job at the courthouse Downtown, she never got used to the smell. White and black mold spots covered the wall, which had begun to separate from the living room window. The bathroom floor was stained black. Leaks were constant.

And it wasn’t just the mold. Lee couldn’t store anything in the kitchen cabinets mounted to the wall; they jiggled precariously any time she touched them, so instead she piled her dishes and glassware on the counter. The ceiling fan was similarly too unstable to use.

But she was paying $650 a month — still a good chunk of her paycheck, but at least she could consistently make rent. It was better than having to go back to the shelter.

Continue reading Joel Oliphint's story at Columbus Alive.