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Columbus moving forward with affordable housing plans following bond package approval

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Paige Pfleger
/
WOSU

Columbus city leaders are moving forward with plans for affordable housing projects after voters approved a $200 million bond package—part of the $1.5 billion bond package approved by voters earlier this month—although new details are slow to emerge.

"It's an incredible sign from the voters of the City of Columbus to support affordability in our community," said Erin Prosser, the city's assistant director for housing strategies.

The city previously announced it will spend $80 million on new affordable housing units, $50 million to support affordable home ownership, $40 million on existing units, and the rest on families experiencing homelessness.

Prosser pointed to data that suggests the city needs to build some 19,000 housing units a year to keep up with ballooning demand.

"Each year, we underbuild in central Ohio, and each year we do that ... we lose some of that natural affordability that Columbus has had in the past decade. And as we continue to see that crunch, the impact is on our most vulnerable," Prosser said.

"We're not waiting until the crisis is at our feet, and it's such an escalated level that we are having to claw back. We're trying to keep pace with our growth and make sure we're investing alongside this robust economic growth that we're seeing in central Ohio," she said.

Prosser said there are a number of affordable housing projects already in line for funding, which will come through a variety of public and private sources.

She said the next few weeks should bring more news about where the city can provide gap funding with the voter-approved borrowing.

Matthew Rand is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. Rand served as an interim producer during the pandemic for WOSU’s All Sides with Ann Fisher.