COLUMBUS, Ohio — Franklin County Commissioners approved $15.5 million for affordable housing through a partnership with the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Healthy Homes program on Tuesday.
The funding will be used to create more than 200 new affordable housing units in the Linden neighborhood. It will also support 33 new house construction projects. It will also secure additional funding for hundreds of additional housing to be made available to low-income families. Some of the money will also cover repair costs in lower-income families’ homes.
John O’Grady, president of the Franklin County Board of Commissioner, said they’re always looking for more partners to help address the affordable housing crisis.
"These are American Rescue Plan dollars, federal dollars, we're using everything that we possibly can. We partner with the business community, we partner with lenders, we partner with the city of Columbus, we partner with the state of Ohio. We'll partner with anybody we can because this problem is not going away any time soon and so every opportunity that we have to be able to address affordable housing we're gonna do it,” O’Grady said.
The Franklin County Board of Commissioners stated it allocates more than $20 million each year to housing initiatives.
Meanwhile Columbus’ Downtown Commission took a closer look at several new building proposals that if approved would also include some affordable housing options. Three building proposals were discussed in the commission meeting Tuesday morning. Each mix-use building proposal also includes apartment units.
The locations for the buildings are near each other with proposals for East Rich Street, East Main Street and East Spring Street.
These buildings could potentially bring more than 350 new apartment units downtown. Some of the units will be “micro-dwellings” which the commission believes could offer more affordable options.
"All three of these projects are really trying to address neighborhoods. They're trying to look at streets, and look at streetscapes and say, ‘How do we get a neighborhood to be more solid, how do we get a neighborhood to be more pedestrian friendly?” Jana Maniace, vice chair of the Downtown Commission, said.
O’Grady said affordability is a key component as the population in Franklin County continues to grow.
"When you do those type of projects, you have to have an affordability component to them. If you don't then you're just pricing everybody out of the market. If we're pricing everybody out of the market, that's just silly because if people can't afford them, they're going to go elsewhere, and not everybody can go elsewhere,” O’Grady said.
Maniace said the downtown commission gave the developers of each building feedback and recommendations and more details of the plans will be discussed before they can be approved.