Danielle Acosta was shocked by the glaring, overwhelming need for affordable, safe housing while working as an educator of low-income and homeless students. As a real estate investor and property manager, she consistently heard stories about the many challenges so many in our community face attempting to locate and secure a home for their families. Danielle was inspired to affect change.
Danielle founded DNA Rising along with two partners, Tracie Cleveland and LaToya Smith, who work in the banking industry. The non-profit is dedicated to bringing single mothers and veterans out of homelessness by providing safe, renovated housing upon completion of education, job training and recovery programs in partnership with various community organizations that serve them.
“Between my real estate and rehab work, I was receiving four or five calls a week from people desperately looking for decent places to rent,” says Danielle. “There are all kinds of social services organizations doing wonderful work, but those programs typically don’t have a housing component. We hope to help fill that gap,” says Danielle.
In 2021, DNA Rising teamed up with the Cuyahoga Land Bank and a host of volunteers and donors to transform a vacant and abandoned property in Cleveland’s Forest Hills neighborhood. After sitting vacant for several years, the four-bedroom, three-bath home was in complete disrepair. “The house was condemned and probably headed for demolition,” says Danielle. “It took 20 volunteers over two days just to remove the trash. All the major systems needed replacing, including HVAC, electrical and plumbing, and there were repairs needed due to water damage.”
When complete, the home will serve as semi-permanent housing for up to four male veterans climbing out of distressed situations. Residents will meet specific criteria, including completing job training, recovery, and counseling programs.
The Home Depot Foundation and local companies donated materials, supplies and labor to complete the repairs, along with a host of dedicated volunteers from HOPE worldwide. Danielle anticipates the renovation to be complete in April and ready for the selected veterans to move in shortly after. The group is also hosting an educational workshop for veterans in April. Participants will receive individual assistance from a VA representative, rental resources, and information on the application process for the renovated home.
Danielle is already searching for the perfect location for the group’s next project – a home for a single mother and her family. Click HERE for more information, volunteer opportunities or to donate to DNA Rising.
The Cuyahoga Land Bank is fortunate to collaborate with many outstanding organizations throughout Cuyahoga County that support underserved and at-risk populations in our community. By donating properties from our inventory to these organizations with unique property needs, we can help them advance their community mission—a win-win for all.