Since GOPC delivered its findings to The Columbus Foundation in early 2018, The Columbus Foundation has used GOPC’s assessment to further shape the philosophy that will drive grantmaking in the neighborhood, as well as the first few specific investments. Backed by the findings of Positioning Milo-Grogan for Success, initial grants in the neighborhood are supporting home repairs for current and long-time residents, as well as community engagement, distribution of resident newsletters, and efforts to align civic capacity.
By GOPC Project Associate Alex Highley Recently, Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC) staff attended the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s (CMC) session Highest Eviction Rate in Ohio, Consequences? During the luncheon panelists explored the topics of affordable housing and the high rate of eviction in central Ohio, often referring to research in “The Columbus and Franklin County Affordable Housing Challenge: Needs, Resources, and Funding Models”, a report GOPC recently completed in collaboration with the Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio (AHACO). Panelists for the session comprised of moderator Dan Sharpe of the Columbus Foundation, Brad DeHays of Connect Realty Mid-Ohio Contracting Services, Elfi Di Bella of the YWCA Columbus, and Stephanie Hightower of the Columbus Urban League.
The luncheon began with Sharpe explaining that Franklin County is the state leader in evictions while discussing some of the community development efforts to support families who are at risk of being evicted. To provide context to the housing situation, Sharpe noted that according to the AHACO report informed by GOPC’s research, a household needs to earn $15.98 an hour or $33,238 annually, at a full-time, year-round job in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent. With the rate of poverty population growth three times faster than the rate of overall population growth in Franklin County between 2009 and 2014, residents are finding housing costs increasingly burdensome.
According to the AHACO report, there is a glaring shortage of 54,000 affordable housing units in the region, which, as DeHays explains, is a direct contributor to the high rate of evictions in Franklin County. Often, the first step to an eviction is an unfortunate event such as illness or a flat tire, and then suddenly problems spiral out of control when bills rack up and families cannot pay their monthly rent. While Hightower was keen to stress that there are often a wide variety of reasons people are evicted, the root of the problem is that one in three families in Columbus live paycheck-to-paycheck, and therefore struggle to afford basic costs such as paying rent. 354 families are evicted in Central Ohio every week and to compound this problem, a portion of them may later end up homeless, often in part because of the stigma and barriers which a record of eviction brings to future housing opportunities.
In alignment with models analyzed by GOPC as part of the AHACO report, Hightower points to incentivizing developers to create units for low- to middle-income people as a potential tool for expanding affordable housing. Speakers at the session also suggested strengthening the Section 8 voucher program and simplifying the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, along with improving education for landlords and tenants. GOPC supports Hightower’s emphasis on the importance of building capacity of organizations currently working on affordable housing issues and minimizing duplication by coordinating efforts. With a large number of nonprofit, public, and private groups in Columbus working to expand affordable housing, it is important to maximize the work of leaders currently working in this policy arena and to ensure that future interventions are done collaboratively.
For more information, including GOPC’s exploration of affordable housing models from around the country, read the AHACO report: The Columbus and Franklin County Affordable Housing Challenge: Needs, Resources, and Funding Models
The Big Give is Coming to Central Ohio! For 24 hours, beginning Tuesday May 12, at 10:00 a.m., the Columbus Foundation will increase your online donation of $20 or more made to the Greater Ohio Policy Center!
Starting at 10am on May 12th and ending at 10am on May 13th, the Columbus Foundation is matching on a pro rata basis all donations made to nonprofits and charities in central Ohio. The pool is $1.3 million and the Greater Ohio Policy Center is an eligible recipient!
Everyday GOPC works with leaders in the public, private, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors to advance policies and programs that support the redevelopment of existing communities, strengthen regional cooperation, and protect the countryside and Ohio’s natural resources.
Support from donors like you help fund the work we do; won’t you join us in championing revitalization and sustainable growth in Ohio?
Best of all, you don’t even have to live in central Ohio to participate in the Big Give!
How it Works
Step 1: Beginning at 10 a.m. on May 12, visit http://columbusfoundation.org/ and click on the Big Give banner.
Step 2: Search for Greater Ohio Policy Center. Click the Give Now button. 100% of your donation will go to GOPC.
Step 3: Enter your credit card information to complete your donation of $20 or more. There is no maximum amount.
The Big Give ends at 10 a.m. on May 13. Please make a gift during this 24 hour period—this is a rare opportunity to make your dollar go even further!
If you have any questions, please call the GOPC office and we can help: 614-224-0187.
Greater Ohio Policy Center, in partnership with The Columbus Foundation, has released “Achieving Healthy Neighborhoods: Evaluating the Impact of Housing Investments in Weinland Park,” a data-driven report that assesses whether the Columbus neighborhood of Weinland Park has reached long-term stability.
Achieving Healthy Neighborhoods finds that, as a result of $80 million in housing investments since 2003, Weinland Park is improving. However, the neighborhood has not yet reached a sustainable level of health and coordinated programs and investments should persist in order to ensure the neighborhood does not regress and continues on a trajectory of long-term vibrancy. Additionally, the report finds that Weinland Park does not exhibit signs of gentrification--such as rapidly increasing home values, repeat sales of homes, increasing income levels, and rapidly shifting demographics.
Although Columbus is often considered more economically prosperous than its Midwestern peers, many of its older areas have faced significant challenges common to legacy cities. Like other neighborhoods, Weinland Park has experienced decades-long declining employment opportunities, population loss, and the associated increases in poverty and vacancy. Until recently, Weinland Park was perceived to be one of the most distressed neighborhoods in Columbus.
In 2003, a catalytic turning point occurred when 15% of the neighborhood’s housing transferred from poor management to strong management, transforming it over time from housing of last resort to housing of choice. OSU took an active role in supporting revitalization efforts and the City of Columbus strategically chose to prioritize their investments in a targeted way. Philanthropic, government, and nonprofit partners formed the Weinland Park Collaborative to coordinate programs and investments across many areas of neighborhood health, one of which is housing.
The story of Weinland Park is a remarkable one that continues to inspire many community developers, urban pioneers, and citizen leaders. Numerous stakeholders have rallied around a common vision, the community is actively engaged in its transformation, and philanthropic and government partners coordinate regularly with one another and with residents. While investments in Weinland Park are just beginning to show quantitative impact, Achieving Healthy Neighborhoods indicates that the neighborhood is transitioning into vibrancy.
Click here to download the report.
A recent Columbus Dispatch editorial, "Weinland Park effort will pay off," featured Greater Ohio's study of investments in the Weinland Park neighborhood:
"The community may have a clearer picture soon of what’s working. [...] The nonprofit Greater Ohio Policy Center has been evaluating the Weinland Park efforts undertaken since 2007.
Hard data on which programs and improvements really are improving quality of life will help guide all the efforts and spending yet to come.
It’s a smart way to avoid wasting time, effort and money.
And it’s another indication that the Columbus community is determined to win the battle for Weinland Park."
GOPC is currently undertaking analyses of investments in Columbus' Weinland Park and near South Side neighborhoods, and plans to release the findings by the end of the year. This research is being supported by The Columbus Foundation.