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GOPC Shares Expertise on Housing Policy Panel in Cleveland

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Last week, GOPC’s Manager of Government Affairs Jason Warner had the opportunity to join a distinguished panel of experts at the Cleveland State University College of Urban Affairs as part of their series Ohio Fair Lending/Vital Communities Brown Bag: What Happened in Housing at the Statehouse This Year?. Joining Warner on the panel were Bill Faith, the Executive Director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO), Nate Coffman, Executive Director of the Ohio CDC Association, and Holly Swisher of the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA). The panel was moderated by Byron Soloman of NOBLE. Ms. Swisher provided the attendees with an update on the work OHFA has been involved with assisting homeowners in housing counseling to stave off foreclosure and assisting communities with the demolition of decaying properties.

Warner spoke to the panel about the various initiatives in the budget process related to lead mitigation and inspection programs. The budget made important progress in lead abatement by allocating $4.8 million annually for abatement activities and associated testing, as well as establishing a new residential rental unit registry and will provide a list of certified lead-safe rental units across the state. There was also a move to attempt to override local government home rule authority by granting the sole and exclusive authority of the regulation of lead abatement, including the licensing of lead abatement professionals, to the Ohio Department of Health. This change, had it been accepted, would have usurped local ordinances which had been enacted in cities like Toledo and Cleveland, as well as setting back progress that had been made in state regulations concerning lead mitigation. The changes were opposed by a broad coalition of organizations, and ultimately were removed from the budget. However, a standalone bill that seeks to enact the exact same changes, House Bill 299, was introduced in late June and was recently assigned to the House Health Committee, meaning discussions on this issue will likely continue in the near term.

Warner also had an opportunity to provide attendees with a brief update on the continued negotiations at the Statehouse regarding the MCO sales tax and the proposed increase in the state HIC fee to replace that lost funding. While discussions are ongoing among legislative leaders and the administration, no agreement has been reached and if no agreement is in place by the end of the year, counties and transit agencies across the state will see a dramatic decrease in revenues, resulting in the need for either cuts at the local level, or alternative revenue enhancements to replace the lost funding.

Finally, Faith and Coffman explained their recent efforts to include an amendment to the budget which would have provided a substantial increase in funding for the Ohio Housing Trust Fund. The amendment, which was crafted with the input and support of the leadership of the Ohio House of Representatives, would have provided long-term, sustainable funding to the trust fund through the use of non-GRF funding. In addition, the amendment provided $6 million per year to fight the states growing opiate crisis to expand housing options for low-income people exiting addiction treatment programs. Unfortunately, the amendment was removed by the Ohio Senate and was not resurrected during the budget conference committee negotiations. However, organizations such COHHIO and the Ohio CDC Association continue to advocate for this change, and Faith and Coffman encouraged attendees to continue to reach out to their legislators to educate them on the importance of providing long-term, sustainable funding to the trust fund.

GOPC thanks CSU for a great discussion about the importance of educating lawmakers on issues around housing and advocacy efforts year-round. To learn more about GOPC’s work in this policy area, be sure to check out the Advocacy page on our new website. 

Press Coverage of "Revitalizing America's Smaller Legacy Cities"

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Last week Greater Ohio Policy Center, in partnership with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, published our latest report, “Revitalizing America’s Smaller Legacy Cities: Strategies for Postindustrial Success from Gary to Lowell”. In the report, GOPC’s Torey Hollingsworth and Alison Goebel examine the trajectories of 24 smaller legacy cities across 7 states from 2000 to 2015 and identify strategies that are contributing to progress in these small to mid-sized legacy cities.

Since its release, the report has garnered attention from media outlets, city practitioners, and fellow researchers alike. Below is a wrap-up of the media coverage of the report to date.

Read the the Columbus Dispatch op-ed written by report co-author, Torey Hollingsworth, on investing in Ohio's legacy cities. 
 

Press Coverage:

Report Looks at Revitalization, Reinvestment Strategies for Smaller Legacy Cities
Hannah News Network 9/6/2017

The Overlooked Cities of the Rust Belt
CityLab.com
9/5/2017

State of Labor: Compared to nation, Ohio jobs grow more slowly
Dayton Daily News
9/5/2017

3 Keys to Revival in Small Cities
RIS Media
9/4/2017

Report: Lancaster city's revitalization is model for other small cities
Lancaster Online
9/1/2017

Report Outlines Ways for Smaller Legacy Cities to Grow
Builder Online
9/29/2017

Albany a post-industrial success story, study finds
Albany Times Union
- 8/29/2017

How the Economy Has Changed in 24 Small Legacy Cities in the U.S.
Next City
- 8/29/2017

Report lays out strategies to revitalize smaller legacy cities
Business Insider
- 8/29/2017

 

Ohio Transportation Academy Features Pittsburgh and Columbus Regional Models

By Alex Highley, GOPC Project Coordinator

Last week, Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC) and Transportation for America (T4A) led the second workshop of the 2017 Ohio Transportation Leadership Academy in Columbus. The day-long workshop, titled “Making Informed Decisions about Transportation Investments,” saw participants from various sectors and organizations convene from six areas around Ohio: Cincinnati, Delaware, Toledo, Lorain, Cleveland, and Akron.

The morning session was led by GOPC’s Executive Director Alison Goebel and T4A’s Vice President for Technical Assistance Beth Osborne, who discussed sources and strategies for funding public transportation projects using a combination of federal, state, and local sources. Given that many local transit systems in Ohio are in need of additional support to maintain and expand service, Goebel and Osborne emphasized that leaders seek a diverse combination of funding sources through, for example, partnerships with employers and universities, advertising, or philanthropic contributions. Participants also learned about how implementing robust performance measures to transportation projects can help communicate the local need for additional support.

Carly Dobkins of the Pittsburgh Regional Transportation Alliance

Carly Dobkins of the Pittsburgh Regional Transportation Alliance

In the afternoon sessions, participants welcomed speakers from Pittsburgh and Columbus, who discussed their regions’ creative efforts to improve local transportation systems. Carly Dobkins, from Pittsburgh’s Regional Transportation Alliance, and Sean Luther, from Envision Downtown, spoke about the ongoing effort in Pittsburgh to create a regional transportation vision that seeks to tackle mobility challenges in the city of Pittsburgh and the surrounding area. In bringing together a large coalition of county-level leaders, these initiatives have focused on the full multi-county region’s shared transportation priorities, while planning for future demographic and economic changes. Dobkins and Luther highlighted efforts to work across borders by bringing to the table public, private, and philanthropic sectors from various parts of the region to build an interconnected and multimodal system. A strong emphasis on economic activity and providing project options to transportation users have been key in moving towards a shared vision for the greater Pittsburgh region as a whole.

For the final session of the day, Josh Sikich and Doug Arseneault from the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) discussed the recent cost-effective process of redesigning central Ohio’s bus system. These changes to the system ensure that COTA now offers more frequent service while more readily taking into account where jobs are located and where people live. Sikich and Arseneault explained that the final version of the bus route system was a product of COTA’s community engagement over several years, incorporating riders’ needs that were expressed through dozens of public meetings. Moreover, the success of the smooth transition was based on the education of the public through constant messaging and communication, which allowed riders to become familiar with the new system and understand what improvements and efficiencies were made.

GOPC would like to thank all speakers and participants for attending and contributing to a successful workshop!

Senate Approves 6 Veto Overrides - Delays Vote on Funding for Counties and Transit Agencies

In a rare August session, the Ohio Senate voted on 6 of the 11 veto overrides that the Ohio House of Representatives approved during a special voting session on July 6. They held over five other veto overrides for a possible future vote, including a provision that seeks to provide additional funding for counties and transit agencies.

GOPC Co-hosts Sessions on Neighborhood Homes Tax Credit Proposal

GOPC Co-hosts Sessions on Neighborhood Homes Tax Credit Proposal

In late July, Greater Ohio Policy Center, in partnership with the Neighborhood Homes Coalition, held a series of discussions around the Neighborhood Homes Tax Credit (NHTC), a new federal policy proposal aimed at stabilizing and improving distressed housing markets.  The Land Bank Center of Columbus and Franklin County generously hosted the events.