COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Families at the Post Oak development in the Riverbend neighborhood will get renovated units and a year-round daycare after a $18.9 million investment in the area.

Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority partnered with CVS Health through a tax-credit program to create the investment on Vida Way that will renovate 150 affordable CMHA-owned housing units.

Completed renovations, including buildout of the daycare center, plus eight new affordable housing units, should be done in 18-20 months.

Year-round community childcare

Construction of a daycare of over 10,000 square feet will begin by end of 2022, to open in 2023. The daycare will provide year-round child care for the community through a partnership with Columbus Early Learning Centers.

“When we decided to redevelop Post Oak, [a daycare] was one thing we decided to re-incorporate back into the property,” said Scott Scharlach, Chief Operating Officer at the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority. “Not only to serve the community of Post Oak, but to serve the general community in the neighborhood as well.”

The housing units, built in the mid-1900s, will get energy-efficient appliances as part of a bottom-to-top refurbishment: flooring, cabinets, energy-efficient appliances, lighting, heating and cooling.

Renovated units will be done in the next 60-90 days, and then every month going forward for the next 18 months they will deliver units each month, Scharlach explained.

Residents can choose to move within the property while that unit is being refurbished, and then move back into a fully renovated unit. They can also accept a voucher to another property in Franklin County.

Affordable rent

“We usually get about 40% of the residents that choose to stay,” Scharlach said. “Sixty percent of the residents choose to take our voucher and move to a unit that’s owned by a private landlord.”

Post Oak’s rents are set at 30% of the renter’s income, and HUD provides subsidy for the additional rent amount. People without an income are covered 100% by HUD.

CMHA can also provide a utility allowance to help cover the cost of utilities for people who qualify.

The focus on affordable housing is part of a larger strategy, said Mike Avotins, East Mid-America Market President for Aetna, a CVS Health company.

“Part of it is we want to be local, the other reason we make these investments is that we are committed to improving health equity,” Avontins said. “Eighty percent of your health and well being is tied to your ZIP code, not to your genetic code.”

Healthy van for neighborhood

This is the second project that CMHA has partnered with CVS Health.

“They go above and beyond of just giving tax credit equity,” Scharlach said. “They provide services and funds that fund other services.”

At the Rosewind community, CVS Health provided the funds for a workforce training center for residents.

“A typical tax credit investor would not provide funds to do those kind of things,” he said

In the Post Oak community, CVS Health will provide a Healthy Van with such facilities as blood pressure and cholesterol screening.

“What I would expect at Post Oak,” Avontins said, “is that, as we continue to make this investment, and as we understand what the community needs, we’ll continue to make additional investments to support that.”

Housing tax credits helped the funding

Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority has managed and owned Post Oak for decades. Renovation plans are part of a strategy to modernize its affordable-housing real estate portfolio.

“We applied for the low-income housing credit tax program, and through that program is where we found CVS to be the tax credit investor, which helps to provide the equity to help pay for the renovations to the property,” Scharlach said.

CVS Health acquires the tax credits, which provides the equity to CMHA to renovate and build the daycare, and CVS gets tax credits back through filing federal taxes.

New developments for elderly and victims of human trafficking

  • Construction begins soon at Harriet’s Hope, 45 units of permanent supportive housing for victims of human trafficking. CMHA will create wraparound services to help people get onto their feet and achieve economic stability.
  • An additional 45 units of senior living in the Franklinton area will have permanent supportive housing as well.

Both projects will have affordable rent programs.