GOPC Manager of Research and Policy Torey Hollingsworth joined a record number of community development practitioners and advocates from around the state at the Ohio CDC Association’s 33rd Annual Conference in Toledo.
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.
By Torey Hollingsworth, GOPC Manager of Research and Policy
Last week, the Ohio CDC Association and Ohio Citizens for the Arts held a day-long workshop on creative placemaking in Zanesville. Hosted in the studio and gallery of local artists and community advocates Michael and Kathy Seiler, the workshop focused on the intersection between the arts and community development.
According to instructor Brian Friedman of Plan F Solutions, creative placemaking is the process of strengthening communities through the arts. More than just arts-based economic development, creative placemaking is a holistic, arts-centered approach to transforming communities into more equitable places for residents to live and work. Creative placemaking projects bring artists in as co-equal partners in development efforts and have an explicit focus on preventing displacement. These projects have a real focus on engaging grassroots leadership and an ultimate goal of building a stronger community – not just a real estate development.
In Zanesville, the ideals behind creative placemaking have been put into action as a group of local artists have rehabilitated vacant houses, industrial space, and storefronts to create new studios, galleries, and homes. A group of artists is working with a developer and the city topurchase and restore a series of historic buildings on Main Street, with the intention of creating new residential options downtown. Michael and Kathy Seiler have purchased and rehabilitated homes near their studio with the goal of drawing new residents to the city’s core. Many artists are members of theArtist Colony of Zanesville, which is dedicated to “community development and economic growth” in and around downtown. The Artist Colony also hosts a monthly First Friday event, which draws visitors downtown as the galleries open to the public.
Greater Ohio Policy Center’s research on smaller legacy cities has found that placemaking is one strategy that helps promote urban revitalization in smaller communities that have experienced significant economic change. Building on an authentic sense of place can help attract and retain talented residents that draw jobs, new amenities, and other investment.
In conjunction with the Ohio CDC Association, GOPC will co-host a Webinar on October 27th, 2016 from 10:00-11:30am that will examine how smaller legacy cities, from Akron to Zanesville, have fared over the last 15 years. GOPC will share best practices that smaller legacy cities throughout the Midwest and Northeast used to jumpstart revitalization and that community development practitioners can catalyze and implement. GOPC recently presented on its latest work on small and mid-sized legacy cities at the Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference in Baltimore. To learn more about this, please check out our October 2016 Newsletter.