Watch a previous NBC4 report on affordable housing in central Ohio in the video player above.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The life expectancy of low-income Ohio residents will increase more than 5 years if the state boosts affordable housing, a new study has found as costs increase at the fastest pace in the region’s history.

About 80,000 households in the 15-county central Ohio region are facing severe cost burdens given home prices are growing three times faster than the median household income, according to the report by the Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio. The alliance projects another 20,000 families, a population the size of Newark, will have slipped into housing instability by 2040 if swift action is not taken.

“Central Ohio stands at a pivotal crossroads,” said Bob Bitzenhofer, Affordable Housing Alliance chair, in a release. “The region is facing a sizable affordable housing challenge — one that resonates throughout our society. Prioritizing affordable housing cannot only ease the burden on Ohio’s residents, but also unlock substantial community progress. This is a call to action.”

The study argues cutting that housing gap in half, from 83,000 households to 41,500, would benefit the region’s residents across three primary indicators: education, health and economic prosperity. Examples of benefits include the following:

  • A quarter of residents would increase their life expectancy by more than five years.
  • 3,000 more third graders would achieve reading proficiency and an additional 600 students would graduate high school.
  • 40,000 jobs would be created each year throughout the region and lift at least 5,000 children out of poverty.

The report outlines several tangible actions to reduce the gap, like growing income mobility programs and supportive services to stabilize low-income neighbors, expanding tools to help current owners stay in their homes and uplifting policymakers as they address the region’s mounting housing needs.

Alliance’s call to action received the endorsement of several Columbus leaders, including Nationwide Children’s Hospital vice president of community wellness Nick Jones, City Councilmember Emmanuel Remy and Mayor Andrew Ginther.

“Our region is collaborating to double the number of units built over the next 15 years while simultaneously funding affordable housing that will support households that make less than $50,000 a year,” said Ginther. “The Columbus Housing Strategy will ensure that attainable housing is a right, not a privilege, as we grow as a region that welcomes all and leaves none behind.”

Read the alliance’s full study, titled “Finding Home in the Heart of it All,” below.