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Columbus City Officials And Nonprofit Partners Announce Affordable Housing Plans

Shayla Favor announcing the initiative at IMPACT Community Action.
Nick Evans
/
WOSU
Columbus City Councilmember Shayla Favor said at a press conference Thursday that $50 million "is not nearly enough to address the city's housing crisis, but it is a great start."

City and non-profit leaders at a press conference on Thursday outlined plans for more affordable housing with the remaining funds from a $50 million bond issue passed in 2019.

Six new affordable housing projects will be completed in 2022 in different parts of Columbus, including multimillion dollar developments in Easton and Starling Yard in Franklinton.

Four of those projects received their first allocation of funds this year and will provide a total of 540 units. The remaining two projects will receive their full allocation next year and will provide 141 units. A $5.4 million partnership with the Central Ohio Community Land Trust will support an additional 37 units.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said the funds have already helped create more than a thousand new housing units for individuals earning less than about $47,000 and families of four making less than $67,000.

“This $50 million has already leveraged $276 million from county, state, and the private sector helping us -- just since this bond issue was on the ballot -- create 1,300 more units,” Ginther said.

Columbus City Councilmember Shayla Favor said that about two-thirds of the remaining bond funding will support gap financing, which may conflict with voters’ expectations that more of the tax income would go towards construction projects.

"I know that may be confusing as we expected to see much of those dollars going towards actual construction,” Favor said. “But the reality is that $50 million is not nearly enough to address our housing crisis, but it is a great start."

Favor said that through private and state partnerships, Columbus will better meet its housing needs.

“And the best way to maximize these dollars is through partnership with developers who receive low-income housing tax credit, support force from the state of Ohio, and filling in the remaining gap with financial assistance [so that] we are getting units online as quickly as possible," Favor said.

Columbus voters approved the bond fund in May of 2019. The allocation of the funds is included in the city’s 2021 Capital Improvements Budget, which was announced last week. $35 million of the fund will be spent by the end of this year, and the remaining money will be spent next year.

City officials are also evaluating revisions to the Community Reinvestment Area residential tax abatement policy to incentivize the creation of additional units that are accessible to families earning Columbus’ median household income of $47,000.

Proposed revisions to the Community Reinvestment Area abatement policy will be presented at public meetings on Wednesday, November 3, at 5:30 p.m. at Feddersen Recreation Center and Wednesday, November 10, at 5:30 at Barack Recreation Center.

Joining Ginther and Favor at today’s press conference were Erin Prosser, the assistant director of housing strategies at the City of Columbus; Lark Mallory, president and CEO of the Affordable Housing Trust for Columbus and Franklin County, an independent non-profit lender; and Reverend John Edgar, the executive director and pastor emeritus at Community Development for All People, a faith-based, non-profit organization.