COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Columbus City Council will outline initial proposals Thursday morning for housing policies it wants to pursue in the city and its surrounding suburbs throughout 2023. 

The housing initiatives being detailed Thursday center on three greater themes — investment, preservation, and inclusion, according to a Council news release.

“We are at a critical point in our city’s history,” Councilmember Shayla Favor said in the release. “With the expected growth of Columbus comes challenges, with housing being at the forefront. The approaching housing crisis threatens the stabilization of families, and more specifically families of low-income, and Black and Brown families.”

Each councilmember will lead at least one of the initiatives, with Favor — the chair of the Council’s housing committee — at the helm of several.

Some of the proposed policies include pursuing partnerships with housing assistance agencies, creating a vacancy-foreclosure registry and a rental registry, and requiring 180-day notice of rent increases, among others. 

One investment proposal is for an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) pilot program, which would push for a larger number of affordable ADUs — or smaller, standalone housing units located on the same lot where larger single units are. ADUs are legal in a number of large cities, including Columbus. 

The vacancy-foreclosure registry would better enable the city to hold property owners liable for “leaving abandoned properties in disrepair,” according to the news release. Cincinnati created a similar registry in 2014.

Council is also looking at passing a full year of additional funding for 2022 legislation that allocated $1.5 million toward legal assistance for people facing appearances in eviction court.

To sustain growth, housing a big concern for local leaders

As Columbus’ population has swelled over time, it has also consistently grown faster than the number of housing units being built. The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) recently projected that the greater central Ohio region is tracking to hit a population of around 3.15 million by 2050. 

A housing needs assessment survey by the Building Industry Association of Central Ohio, released in late 2022, concluded the city would need to nearly double its average number of housing permits to meet projected needs.

“We all know the saying that a home is where a job goes at night,” Council President Shannon Hardin told attendees at the Columbus Chamber of Commerce annual meeting in early February. “Housing is a regional challenge, and we need regional advocacy to build a city for the future.”

Affordability — or lack thereof — was one big factor the survey cited in holding the region back from providing proper housing to accommodate population and job growth, according to the BIA.

After the Thursday press conference, Council will seek feedback from internal and external stakeholders. It aims to have some of the initiatives in the form of legislation by July 2023, with additional ones legislated in November and December.