Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority to offer 1,000 extra vouchers


The Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority plans to issue an additional 1,000 residential vouchers next year, while 24,000 remain on the waiting list for government subsidized housing.

The housing authority has already issued 12,500 vouchers for housing, but the need is much greater, as the waiting list shows and housing advocates are pushing for more affordable housing in central Ohio.

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“This is not meeting the need for affordable housing,” said Charles Hillman, president and CEO of CMHA.

Carlie Boos, Managing Director of Affordable Central Ohio Housing Alliance, said 1,000 more coupons can be transformative for those families who may not have shelter without them.

“Housing is a puzzle. This is a piece. A corner piece. But still a piece,” Boos said.

According to the Alliance for Affordable Housing, 54,000 low- and middle-income families pay half of their household income for housing.

In 2019, Columbus voters approved a $ 50 million bond package for affordable housing. Also that year, a US $ 100 million Housing Action Fund was set up by the Affordable Housing Trust from Columbus and Franklin Counties. It is funded by private sector contributions and investments and provides low-cost loans to nonprofit and nonprofit developers who commit to certain affordability requirements for rental units.

Boos also mentioned the Columbus City Housing for All initiative. Columbus City Council was due for first readings on Monday on three pieces of housing legislation.

A bill would prohibit Columbus landlords from targeting potential tenants based on their source of income, such as home rentals. B. Federal housing vouchers to refuse housing. On the other hand, the landlord would have to provide the tenants with written evidence of the deposit and the rent payments. And the third would offer payment alternatives for rental deposits, such as paying the deposit in three monthly installments.

Boos said efforts need to go beyond housing to find a way out of poverty, including more training on skills that lead to better paying jobs and ways to ensure people complete their college education.

Meanwhile, CMHA is receiving $ 1 million in funding from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development for maintenance and repair costs for the remaining 359 units. This equates to $ 24.8 million received by the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority in Cleveland and the $ 11.7 million received by the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority.

But that’s because CMHA only has four council housing lots left: The Meadows in the Winchester Canal, Thornwood in the Milo Grogan area, Post Oak in the Hilltop area, and Chestnut Grove, a senior housing complex in the Blacklick area. Cuyahoga and Cincinnati authorities still have thousands of public housing units to maintain, said Scott Scharlach, CMHA’s chief operating officer.

The agency continues to convert public housing units into those owned and operated by nonprofit groups or companies as part of the rental support demonstration program. The program offers low-income housing loans and tax credits that can be used to repair property.

This year, CMHA will convert Post Oak’s 148 units into the program and convert the remaining three properties in 2022. A portion of the $ 1 million will be used to repair some of these units. The cost can range from $ 30,000 to $ 50,000 per unit. Said scarlet fever.

“The public housing program is severely underfunded,” he said. “In this context, the switch to the project-based voucher program enables us to finance our assets through rent subsidies.”

In 2020, CMHA announced it had acquired or developed more than $ 200 million in housing. It acquired six apartment complexes and built and renovated eight more with a total of 1,509 units.

CMHA plans to acquire, develop, or repair an additional 500 units this year. Up to 50% of the apartments are reserved for families who earn up to 80% of the area’s median income. In 2020 that was $ 47,150 for a single person and $ 67,350 for a family of four.

“We have the ability to develop across Franklin County,” said Hillman. “We’ll exercise that.”

Housing officials have said they need more marketable units to grow revenue and offset sluggish federal funding over the years.

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@ MarkFerenchik