AKRON - It may look like your traditional home, but it’s anything but ordinary.
The home that sits in the heart of North Hill’s neighborhood in Akron is transforming the way we think about renting a night inside an Airbnb. This home is bridging the gap between two communities.
The Better Block Foundation is focused on finding ways to positively transform communities. An idea submitted in the Knight Foundation Cities Challenge has come to life. The vacant Elma Street house, named the Exchange House, has turned into a space to bring visitors, residents and immigrants together under one roof.
Scott Read, program director for Ohio’s Better Block Foundation, explained that the home gives visitors and residents a chance to gain a better understanding of the cultural scene around them – especially in an area filled with cultural diversity as thousands of refugees build a life in the city.
"They’re realizing that this isn’t the old North Hill,” said Read
The North Hill area has transformed over the years, welcoming many immigrants who have connected with the International Institute of Akron.
“Get more people familiar with who’s here, what’s here and then we’re seeing a tremendous bridging of gaps”
That bridge looks a little different in the Exchange House. It starts with the first floor which is open to the community and neighbors. You can think of it as cultural center that can be used for just about anything, including community events and concerts.
The second floor looks like your traditional hotel room, but with a unique twist of incorporating small details to embrace the area’s cultural diversity.
“They may not know what to expect, and then walk into something completely different and new,” said Katie Beck, program director for the Exchange House. “I just love when there are moments like that in life.”
There’s still a few things left to make the house a home. If you would like to get involved, there's an active registry online where people can donate items.
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