Local non-profit calls for more affordable housing, pandemic highlights need

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–A local non-profit says they’re becoming overwhelmed when it comes to calls about affordable housing in the city.

The pandemic has increased this stress for the Columbus Urban League (CUL).

Stephanie Hightower is the president and CEO of the CUL and explained this has been an issue for years, and the pandemic is highlighting it even more. She says it is a high priority right now.

Demand higher than supply. That’s the Columbus Urban League president’s concern when it comes to affordable housing in the city.

“Literally had to contract out with a call center because the volume is so enormous for people that are calling looking for some kind of stabilized housing,” said Hightower.

According to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, here in Ohio, there is a 250,000-house shortage when it comes to rentals in affordable housing.

It’s something Hightower says was stressed even more in the past year.

From January through March 19th of this year — we’ve had over 2800 evictions in Franklin county and what it shows you is that the current affordable housing stock right now is not adequate.”

It’s not a new issue and on that, the CUL is trying to keep up with. In 2019, the National Low Income Housing Coalition says here in the city there were roughly 71 thousand low-income households and less than 23 thousand rental homes.

The data has held steady for the last couple years.

  • 2019: 71,264 low-income renter households compared to 22,802 affordable and available homes
  • 2018: 73,038 low-income renter households compared to 21,531 affordable and available homes
  • 2017: 69,636 low-income renter households compared to 22,747 affordable and available homes
  • 2016: 75,391 low-income renter households compared to 23,187 affordable and available homes

“We receive probably anywhere from 250 calls per day we have a housing list that we try and maintain for affordable housing for people that come in we usually start with a stack of about 500 on Mondays and by Fridays that stack is gone because people are coming in trying to find that affordable housing.

Hightower says the city is growing and developing so why not affordable housing?

“So we know that the wealth is here in this community now it’s a matter of how do we get people to have the will how do we get those developers to have the will.”

Columbus City Council passed ordinances a few weeks ago as part of the housing for all legislative package. Hightower says it’s a step in the right direction.

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