Columbus Foundation Commits To Creating Affordable Housing in Central Ohio

Columbus Foundation CEO Doug Kridler speaks about the foundation’s commitment to the Housing Action Fund. (Photo credit: The Columbus Foundation)

Columbus Foundation CEO Doug Kridler speaks about the foundation’s commitment to the Housing Action Fund. (Photo credit: The Columbus Foundation)

By Amanda Palleschi

The Columbus Foundation is playing a leading role in an effort to help ensure fast-growing Franklin County, Ohio, has enough affordable housing to keep up with its rapidly changing needs.

Franklin County added almost 30,000 residents in 2018 alone — and much of that growth is taking place in urban areas of Columbus rather than out in the suburbs.

In turn, Columbus’ housing needs are changing — and the growth is starting to put pressure on its most those with lower incomes. Residents living at or near the poverty line must spend more than half of their paycheck to afford housing, and the county will need to nearly double the number of affordable housing units -- from 8,000 to 14,000 -- to meet the demand.

To address this growing shortage of affordable housing options, the Columbus Foundation — along with the city of Columbus and Franklin County, other local organizations and businesses — recently launched a $100 million Housing Action Fund. The foundation last month announced an initial $5 million contribution to the fund, which will support loans at a below-market rate for nonprofit and for-profit developers in efforts to build and create long-term affordable housing options.

Developers must meet certain standards in order to access the funds. According to the city planning news site Next City, the fund will prioritize projects for families making below 60 percent of the median income for Franklin County and will create more than 2,000 new rental units.

The Fund will be managed by the Affordable Housing Trust for Columbus and Franklin County, a non-profit in the area that regularly works with private companies and the public sector on affordable housing issues. But the foundation has also been heavily involved in the issue prior to this announcement; it has committed $11.5 million to affordable housing efforts over the last four years.

"This is a historic investment into our community that will address a critical need today and pay dividends for generations to come," said Columbus Foundation president and CEO Doug Kridler in a statement announcing the foundation’s involvement. "With Franklin County projected to grow by another 200,000 people to a population of nearly one-and-a-half million by the year 2050, by collectively supporting housing affordability in this way now, we have the opportunity to grow in a more inclusive way throughout the rest of the twenty-first century."

Amanda Palleschi