The City of Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, along with President of Franklin County Marilyn Brown, corporate partners and The Columbus Foundation, announced a $100 million Housing Action Fund to address the need for affordable housing in Franklin County.
Mayor Andrew Ginther said, “the fund will provide a flexible source of capital dollars managed by the Affordable Housing Trust which will offer low-cost loans to developers who commit to specific affordability requirements in order to preserve and increase the number of units in Franklin County.
“These funds, in addition to the $50 million in bond money approved by Columbus voters in May, represent the foundation of a comprehensive community approach to filling the gap that was identified through the work of the Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio.
“We know that more than 54,000 people in central Ohio live at or near poverty and spend more than a half of their income for housing. As the city and region continue to grow, we must make sure that residents who work in the region can afford to live here, too,” said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther.
“I am grateful to the coalition of private and public leaders worked to create an innovative financial solution to address this need.
The new fund is unique in its diverse mix of investors aligned with a shared purpose and commitment to the community. Founding investors include:
- Affordable Housing Trust for Columbus and Franklin County
- Columbia Gas/NiSource Charitable Foundation
- The Columbus Foundation
- Fifth Third Bank
- Heartland Bank
- Huntington National Bank
- L Brands
- Park National Bank
“If we are committed to providing a solid foundation for families to thrive in Columbus, then we must start with affordable housing,” said Columbus City Councilmember Shayla Favor.
“This is just the beginning. I am proud and humbled by the collaborative nature and spirit of community that reverberates throughout the City.”
“Affordable housing is one of the great challenges facing our community. Franklin County is thriving, but we’re not a success unless all of our residents can afford to live here,” said Board of Commissioners President Marilyn Brown.
“We remain committed to supporting affordable housing for our residents, and that’s why the county puts nearly $17 million toward this issue each year. We are excited about what today’s announcement means for this community as we move forward with the private sector to improve affordable housing options across Franklin County.”
The Housing Action Fund will offer quick-strike and longer term dollars to support organizations committed to affordable housing in a very competitive market. This fund gives the City of Columbus and Franklin County the ability to fund housing development, home repair and modification, and targeted renter assistance.
“We are honored to stand alongside all the investors, inspired by the recent call to action from our Mayor and County Commissioners, to ensure our economic tool kit includes private dollars that can be repeatedly leveraged to create more safe, dignified and affordable homes for our community,” said Steve Steinour, President and CEO of Huntington National Bank, who led the effort in gathering founding investors.
“This is a significant opportunity for banks, foundations and corporations in central Ohio to join in partnership with our City and County to advance a highly replicable model and innovative source of capital needed to ensure more of our families have a place to call home.”
“This is an historic investment into our community that will address a critical need today and pay dividends for generations to come,” said Doug Kridler, President and CEO of The Columbus Foundation. “With Franklin County projected to grow by another 200,000 people to a population of nearly 1.5 million by the year 2050, by collectively supporting housing affordability in this way now, we have the opportunity to grow in a more inclusive way throughout the rest of the 21st century.”
According to a BIA study, there are 8,000 units built each year in Columbus. In order to meet the needs of Franklin County and Columbus residents this number must increase to 14,000 units per year. Through this fund, an additional 2,150 units of mixed-income rental housing will be able to be created and preserved.
“The Affordable Housing Trust for Columbus and Franklin County is proud of our collaboration with the city, county and community partners establishing the Housing Action Fund, which will leverage the community’s investments to build and preserve affordable housing,” said Robert Weiler, chairman of The Robert Weiler Company and chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Affordable Housing Trust, which will underwrite and approve loans issued by the fund.
“The Affordable Housing Alliance is so gratified that community leaders at all levels understand both the magnitude of the affordable housing gap and the benefit of affordable homes for all of our residents,” said E.J. Thomas, Chair of the Affordable Housing Alliance. “This commitment of significant new public, private, and philanthropic resources achieves the funding goal in the Alliance 3-Year Start-Up Plan and puts us solidly on the path to meeting the Franklin County affordable housing challenge.”
The fund will provide below-market loans to for-profit and non-profit developers. All properties financed by the fund are required to have an affordability commitment and strategy. The fund will give priority and provide incentives to projects that average 60 percent AMI rents or below, or less than $1,200 a month for a three-person household.
Ohio- Franklin County Auditor Michael Stinziano has said in his 100 days’ report that significant progress has been made towards creating an office that is accessible, transparent, and accountable to the public.
According to him, “I established a variety of goals for the office so that it would provide the very best public service for our residents and make our community the best place to live and work.”
He highlighted the eight accomplished goals in the first 100 days to include, “fourteen Community Hours Meetings across Franklin County; Sold dog licenses at several community events; Began ongoing participation in 2020 Census planning; Joined community partners on a pilot program to help seniors age in place; Established and awarded four True Transaction Awards to local businesses; Began bringing the office into the 21st century with frequently used fill-able forms, such as the DTE 100; Worked with the FBI to conduct a consumer safety sweep checking for skimmers; and Paid Parental and Caregiver leave.”
“We are out in the community, listening to and helping our constituents. We’ve hosted 12 informational meetings across the county to help residents file Board of Revision appeals. We’re expanding the locations where dog licenses are sold, and working with low-cost vaccination clinics across the county to hold events where dog licenses are available,” he said.
According to him, “each week, I’m holding Community Hours meetings where I can get feedback from residents.
“Those meetings give me a chance to be out in your neighborhoods to listen firsthand to your concerns.
At the office, we are modernizing how we provide services and bringing the Auditor’s office into the 21st century with easy, accessible services.
“We’re updating forms to make them electronically filled out, eliminating the need to manually write out forms that in some cases have to be filled out in triplicate. New stickers that the Auditor’s office places on gas pumps now feature a QR code so people can use their phones to get more information about inspections and complaint options,” he added.
He disclosed that “the Auditor’s website has been completely refreshed, and we are working on a new, updated mobile app that will be easy and convenient to use.
“And I’ve hired a new Chief Information Officer to lead the Franklin County Data Center in providing superior IT services to our fellow county agencies.”
On employees, Micahel Stinziano said,” we’re creating an office where they can work and provide the best possible public service. On day one, I created a new position, the Open Government and Legal Services Manager, to provide accessible public records and streamline that process.
“We’ve established an employee committee to hear the issues and concerns of our workers. And, we’ve implemented a new policy that will provide paid parental and caregiver leave, a major improvement for our employees that I hope is a model for other municipalities.
“We’ve made substantial progress in building an office with innovative, modern ideas and initiatives that will provide superior public service. The Franklin County Auditor’s office will continue to work hard serving our county and I look forward to continuing to update the public with our accomplishments,” he said.