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Business & Economy

Non-profit working to meet demand in affordable housing for seniors as their population rises

National Church Residences

The challenge of expanding affordable housing for senior citizens in central Ohio remains a focus for National Church Residences.

Within the next two years, the non-profit organization plans to open about 700 new units in central Ohio. However, that will not be enough to fill the demand.

“We need about 1,400 units annually to meet the demand just in central Ohio,” said new President and CEO Susan DiMickele. "What we're seeing right now, even as we're opening new communities, they're full within less than two months and we've got a wait list.”

DiMickele said National Church Residences maintains about 25 housing communities in central Ohio at all income levels. Renters of the units pay between 30 to 60% of their income. About 7,000 seniors a day receive a variety of services.

“We also have services at National Church Residences where we provide in-home care, hospice at end of life and just try to find other resources to really help older adults age in place, regardless of whether they live for us or live with us,” said DiMickele.

National Church Residences recently opened a new complex at Bretton Woods on Columbus’ North Side. Another complex is also on the North Side on Roche Drive near Route 161. Across the street, another senior citizens’ complex is under construction at the site where the Capri Lanes bowling alley once stood for more than 50 years. Each complex contains about 100 apartments.

DiMickele said as inflation increased prices for building homes, the organization has stepped up its partnerships with local and state government.

"One thing we find in affordable housing is even when we can get a federal tax credit, there's often a gap in funding,” said DiMickele. “And so that's why we are partnering more and more with the city of Columbus (and) with the county. We're also advocating for a state tax credit just to help fill that funding gap."

The Ohio Department of Development has reported that the percent of Franklin County residents who are 65 and older is expected to increase from 10% to 15% over a 30-year period between 2010 and 2040.

“We really believe that housing is the foundation for everything else for health, safety, food security,” said DiMickele.

Debbie Holmes began her career in broadcasting in Columbus after graduating from The Ohio State University. She left the Buckeye state to pursue a career in television news and worked as a reporter and anchor in Moline, Illinois and Memphis, Tennessee.