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Advocates call on Ohio leaders to put $308M of federal relief funds into affordable housing

Apartment for Rent sign
Apartment for Rent sign

A coalition of homelessness and housing advocates are calling on state leaders to put $308 million — from federal COVID-19 relief funds — into affordable housing.

Amy Riegel, executive director for the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, said the demand in the housing market is creating a domino effect that forces low-income people to pay for apartments they can’t afford or even go homeless.

“The lower your income, the less selection that you're going to have. And what this can lead to is individuals having to make the choice to pay too much of a percentage of their income on just rent, which then impacts other parts of their lives and our economy,” said Riegel.

The state has $1.9 billion remaining in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.

COHHIO is requesting the state put $308 million into addressing the housing issue. That would include $150 million to create 5,000 affordable rental units that would be developed by leveraging the 4% housing tax credit.

“And by having more units, individuals would not have to make those hard choices, and there would be units that would be dedicated to the individuals with the lowest income so they would be able to afford their apartments,” said Riegel.

Another $100 million would create housing units for people who need to be near “supportive services.” COHHIO said this would serve “chronically homeless individuals with severe behavioral health challenges, homeless youth and survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence through gap financing with Ohio’s housing tax credit programs.”

A spokesperson for Gov. Mike DeWine has said these types of proposals are still under review. DeWine’s office has said the governor has a “strong preference is to use one-time dollars to fund one-time projects that will make major impacts in Ohio communities, as opposed to funding ongoing expenses.”

COHHIO said their request fits this description.

A report from the group Ohio REALTORS said the average price of a home in July hit $273,954. That was an 8.4% increase compared to the average price of a home for sale in July 2021. The number of homes sold last month dropped by 10.4% from the same month last year.

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