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Mayor Ginther urges voters to approve $1 billion bond package; $200 million committed to housing

Ginther says Columbus is behind other like-sized cities when it comes to building affordable housing.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — In an empty lot in this section of Franklinton referred to as “the Bottoms,” the weeds and grass are so high the city has issued a violation notice.

By next fall, the razor wire along the chain-link fence is expected to be replaced by a 44-unit affordable housing complex for seniors.

The Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority owns the land. Woda Construction and Woda Management and Real Estate will oversee the construction of this $13 million project, which is expected to be completed by September of 2023.

Rent will range from $437 to $820 per month.

The higher range of that rent will be too high for Casey Stroble, a homeless veteran who rode by the lot Tuesday morning on his motorized scooter.

“I think it’s crap.” Stroble said when asked about the project. “… And what is the rent going to be on that? $700? $800? $900 a month? People with fixed income cannot afford them.”

Stroble told 10TV News that he had been evicted from a rental house here in Franklinton and was currently living in a homeless camp. He declined to identify the location because he said he was worried about being robbed.

But the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority told 10TV News Thursday that the applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis and that rent for individuals will be determined on his or her income level – adding that the project has vouchers and that residents would only pay 30 percent of their income.

If a would-be renter makes no money, their rent would be covered by CMHA.

“Rich people don’t have a problem,” he said. “People on social security or elderly people, where will we stay at?”

Our conversation with Stroble happened moments after we interviewed Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, who was touting this project - known as McKinley Manor - as part of a larger public policy push to address the need to build more affordable housing.

Ginther says Columbus is behind other like-sized cities when it comes to building affordable housing. He says it needs to be a focus for the city to increase that over the next 15 years – something he says could help address other issues within the city.

“We believe that housing is at the core. If you do any research many folks believe housing is the great vaccine,” Ginther told 10TV News.

More than $1.2 million that voters approved in 2019 will be used towards this project. The mayor is asking voters to approve a $1 billion bond package this fall – with $200 million committed to housing.

10 Investigates asked Ginther about if there was a sense of irony about building affordable housing when earlier this month, members of the homeless community were kicked out of their camp at Heer Park.

“Well that’s why we think this is so important. We believe that everybody that is homeless ought to have housing. And that’s why McKinley manor is so important. And a place that potentially folks that were in that camp or in other camps can come off the land and get the support that they need. To live in a safe affordable place,” Ginther said.

Campaign finance records show one of the top administrators at Woda contributed $48,000 to Ginther’s campaign since 2017. A spokeswoman for the mayor’s office told 10 Investigates via email that those contributions “have no bearing whatsoever on this project.” A spokeswoman for Woda told 10 Investigates she would respond to our questions. As of news time, we were still waiting to hear back.

10 Investigates: Recent Coverage ⬇️

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