Columbus plans to spend $200M on housing, if voters approve

Ohio’s largest city wants to spend $200 million on affordable housing if voters approve borrowing a total of $1.5 billion in November.

Columbus mayor Andrew Ginther had previously said the city has a goal of combining $1 billion in public and private funds to meet housing needs in the region, calling housing a regional problem.

“Central Ohio’s housing crisis is not a Columbus problem; it’s a regional problem,” Ginther said. “By banding together with our private-sector and suburban partners to build new affordable rental units, preserve existing affordability, subsidize permanently affordable homeownership and prioritize housing stability programs that prevent homelessness, we can ensure that our city and region will continue to grow and thrive in ways that are truly equitable and sustainable.”

If voters approve the $1.5 billion bond, the city plans to use $80 million to build rental units, $50 million for home ownership, $40 million for existing housing and another $30 million for programs and permanent housing for people and families who are homeless.

The city plans to work with the Central Ohio Community Land Trust and regional partners to increase housing options for middle-class families and people of color.

“Columbus’ affordable housing crisis is real, and the need for affordable housing is greater than ever. However, we cannot discuss solutions without acknowledging the role systemic racism has played in restricting Black and brown homeownership,” councilwoman Shayla D. Favo said. “Equity that families have in their homes is the main source of wealth for middle-class Americans. Becoming a Black homeowner is more than just owning a home. It is laying a foundation for building generational wealth and creating family stability and financial security. The reality is, there is no silver bullet to fix the problem of affordable housing; however, the proposed housing bond package is one of the tools we have to start making positive change and adding more affordable housing to our community.”

The $1.5 billion in bonds is broken into five issues on the ballot.

Columbus voters will decide on a $300 million bond issue to buy, build, renovate and improve city facilities and infrastructure. Another $200 million issue is on the ballot for the city’s parks and recreation department, and a $200 million bond issue for the Department of Public Service – which includes streets and highways, garbage collection, buying real estate, landscaping, site improvement and buying furniture and equipment – will be on the ballot.

Finally, a $550 million bond will be before voters for public utilities, including water, power, sewers, real estate and equipment.

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