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Columbus City Council proposes series of initiatives to combat affordable housing crisis

Matthew Rand

Columbus City Council gathered at a newly built house in the Linden neighborhood on Thursday morning to propose a series of initiatives to combat the city’s growing affordable housing crisis.

City leaders say the goal is to preserve current housing and invest in new construction while making sure housing is affordable and accessible to all.

Among the proposed initiatives was the creation of a rental registry, which would charge landlords a fee that would go toward eviction assistance.

Council member Shayla Favor, who serves as chair of the city’s Housing Committee, said the fee would be a “proactive measure” designed to bridge a gap when millions of dollars in federal eviction assistance funds eventually dry up.

Council members also want to expand home repair grants for owner-occupied homes, build more tiny homes and create a registry of vacant and foreclosed housing units that could be re-habilitated: something the city currently does not have.

Favor said there is no “silver bullet” to solve the city’s housing crisis, which has come from years of underbuilding, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, and is compounded by increasing interest and construction rates. “What we cannot do is put all of our eggs in one basket. We cannot believe or assume that there’s going to be one thing that is going to cure what we are experiencing in the city of Columbus,” Favor said.

Favor said that safe, stable and quality housing is critical to stabilizing low-income and minority families and improving physical and mental health for Columbus residents.

Statewide, an additional 270,000 affordable rental units are needed to meet the housing needs of very low-income Ohioans, according to the 2023 Gap report released Thursday by the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio and the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Allie Vugrincic is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She comes to Columbus from her hometown of Warren, Ohio, where she was a reporter, features writer and photographer for four years at the Tribune Chronicle and The Vindicator newspapers.