COLUMBUS (WCMH) — At the unveiling of its new client center, the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority revealed two brand new facilities on the inside.
On the first floor, a state-of-the-art customer services department for Franklin County residents to get information on affordable housing.
On the second, a federally approved facility known as the Rise Center, which will provide resources toward childcare, employment, and rental assistance.
“It will serve as our one-stop-shop, to be connected to resources to meet individual needs, and empowerment programming to meet individuals’ goals and beyond,” said Sonja Nelson, vice president of Resident Initiatives with the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority.
Nelson said the building is not only the first of its kind in Columbus but is one of only five other facilities in Ohio. While the center is open to the public, the housing authority is working to keep it safe from COVID-19.
“In light of our current pandemic situation, we’ve now developed a platform that allows our residents to receive direct service safely,” said Charles Hillman, president and CEO of the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority.
“They’ll have the pods here, where they’ll come in and they’ll be able to go into the pod, private space, have a conversation with their housing advisor virtually,” Nelson said.
Meanwhile, officials with Franklin County said facilities like this could help break the cycle of homelessness for working families.
“Franklin County has one of the highest eviction rates, especially among African American women,” said Franklin County Commissioner Erica Crawley.
Crawley is a former member of the Ohio legislature who represented the southeast side of the county. She said more than 80 percent of residents in her district were in unaffordable housing, and that the burden is especially hard on single parents in the area.
“More than 30 percent, some even 50 percent of their income went to keeping a roof over their head,” she said. “They were severely rent-burdened, so that meant they were making choices between food or keeping their lights on and the water running, and we just should not have people in those types of situations.”
The Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority is located at 880 East 11th Avenue.