The Build-Up Academy offers 100 hours of classroom training and 40 hours hands-on training for low-income people ages 18 to 40 to learn job skills that could land them a full-time construction job. The program is operated by Supports to Encourage Low-income Families and the next class starts on Feb. 12 to rehab a house in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED

Fix a house, learn job skills in this Middletown program

The Build-Up Academies is a program operated by the nonprofit Supports to Encourage Low-Income Families that provides job training for people looking to get into a construction trade by rehabbing or flipping property.

John Post, SELF’s housing coordinator, said the program is a natural outgrowth of the nonprofit’s other activities and programs, which include various volunteer work camps in the summer, and community blitzes throughout the year helping low-income people with home repairs and other maintenance issues.

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Post said the Build-Up Academies, now in its third year, provides free construction skills training to classes of nine to 18 students, ages 18 to 40, who meet for nearly four hours a night, four nights a week for nine weeks on the project.

The students also receive construction technology or construction management certificate through an agreement with Cincinnati State. The program offers opportunities to network with local employers or apply for apprenticeships in the construction field upon graduation. In addition there are incentives, employment and life skills training, emergency supports and even steel-toed boots and a starter tool set upon graduation from the program.

“It’s been a great program for us,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of great success stories.”

The rehab project that starts in February will be at 912 Lafayette Ave. in Middletown. SELF worked with the city of Middletown to locate and acquire the property to rehabilitate.

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“If it is a success, we may look at similar opportunities like this down the road,” said Kyle Fuchs, the city’s community revitalization director.

Post said SELF has already completed one rehab project in Hamilton, which assisted Michael and Debra Neal, who had been living in the same apartment for 15 years, in becoming homeowners. Post said the agency interviewed 30 families before opting to sell to the Neals. SELF also assisted by paying the closing costs and helping to obtain down payment assistance, he said.

According to Post, SELF bought a foreclosed property at 426 N. Third St. in Hamilton’s historic German Village district for $16,900 and renovated it. He said volunteers and students from its Build-Up Academy converted the two-bedroom, one-bath home into a three-bedroom, two-bath home.

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Post said the 120-year-old house also received a new roof, appliances, insulation, air conditioning, structural repairs, drywall and siding repairs and a lot of paint. After the project, the renovated house added value to the neighborhood and adjoining properties. The house sold for $87,000.

SELF uses the proceeds from the sale of the house toward financing new and other projects, Post said. He said he would like to grow the program so that it rehabs four houses a year, which would cover the costs of SELF’s housing programs.

For more information, contact Greg Sargent at or 513-820-5022.