Alex Highley, GOPC Project Coordinator
In January, Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC) organized a statewide affordable housing learning exchange at the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) offices. The learning exchange brought together practitioners from Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Toledo to discuss the current housing affordability challenges in their regions and share policies and practices that seek to address the problem.
During the exchange, Cincinnati leaders discussed the possibilities they are seeing in matching 40,000 housing-insecure families with the 47,000 vacant homes that exist in Hamilton County. LISC Cincinnati has worked with the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to map where these homes are. Meanwhile, the Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio, a coalition of Columbus housing organizations, is examining strategies to cut in half the deficit of affordable houses in the area; GOPC’s recent study with the Alliance found that there is a shortage of 54,000 affordable houses in central Ohio.
In Cleveland, leaders have developed a Cuyahoga County Housing Plan and are looking to address the 96,000 people who are housing insecure in the county. Enterprise Community Partners is working at the county level to create additional funding for affordable housing, while Cleveland Neighborhood Progress conducts vacant home rehab, home repair, and home purchase. In Toledo, there is a new city administration and an opportunity to create a new land use plan with affordable housing as a central theme.
A common challenge facing communities in Ohio is simply a lack of funds available for affordable housing, especially given the wide spectrum of housing needs. In many communities, those who fall below 30-50% of the Area Median Income (AMI) face substantial housing challenges, and workforce housing (i.e. 80-120% AMI) is a common need as well. Many areas have identified rental assistance as a top priority for reducing the affordability gap and participants at the learning exchange identified the high rate of evictions as source of concern.
GOPC thanks Fifth Third Bank for their support of this learning exchange. Through 2018, GOPC will continue to convene affordable housing champions in the state in an effort to develop and share ideas for housing solutions throughout Ohio.