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Columbus Gets $100 Million For Affordable Housing Trust

Houses in the Weinland Park neighborhood of Columbus..

Columbus' Affordable Housing Trust is getting $100 million from private investors like Huntington Bank and Nationwide Insurance to fund larger and more long-term projects. 

The city of Columbus and Franklin County established the trust about 20 years ago to serve as a lender for affordable housing projects in the area. President Steve Gladman says the infusion of private capital will significantly expand the scope of what they can accomplish.

“It’s going to allow us to be innovative,” Gladman says. “It’s going to allow us to do things on a larger scale.  The current assets of the trust are limited, so we can’t do long-term lending, as an example, and we have certain limitations on the size of loans.”

The new housing action fund will be established with dollars from Fifth Third Bank, Heartland Bank, Huntington National Bank, Park National Bank, PNC Bank, Nationwide Insurance, Columbia Gas/NiSource Charitable Foundation, L Brands and The Columbus Foundation.

Those private investors will receive a return on their dollars, but not as much as they’d likely get on the open market. They’ll also receive credits under the Community Reinvestment Act.

Developers, meanwhile, will have easier access to capital in exchange for meeting affordable housing benchmarks.

"It'll primarily be multi-family and the reason is just the pricepoint and the ability to do those at scale,” Galdman explains. “It's very hard to scatter site single-family affordable housing."

Columbus Development director Steve Schoeny says they’re trying to help working families.

"Households making that $35-40,000 a year range,” he says. “Making sure that we have places for those families that are working hard, that are doing all the right things, that are participating in the economy and looking for stable housing so that they can bring more stability to their family."

All projects will have to meet rent thresholds tied to area median income, or AMI. In Central Ohio, AMI is calculated at $78,000.

Under the terms of the agreement, all units have to be affordable for someone earning 120% of AMI, and the majority of units will have to be affordable for people who are considered low-income, or 80% AMI ($62,400 for a family of four) and below.

The trust will give preference to projects providing units that will be affordable for people making 60% AMI (or $46,800 for a family of four) and below.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.