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City and County Announce Private Fund to Advance Affordable Housing

Columbus, Ohio -- The City of Columbus, along with Franklin County, corporate partners and The Columbus Foundation, announced a $100 million Housing Action Fund to address the need for affordable housing in Franklin County. The fund will provide a flexible source of capital dollars managed by the Affordable Housing Trust which will offer low-cost loans to developers who commit to specific affordability requirements in order to preserve and increase the number of units in Franklin County. These funds, in addition to the $50 million in bond money approved by Columbus voters in May, represent the foundation of a comprehensive community approach to filling the gap that was identified through the work of the Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio.

“We know that more than 54,000 people in central Ohio live at or near poverty and spend more than a half of their income for housing. As the city and region continue to grow, we must make sure that residents who work in the region can afford to live here, too,” said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “I am grateful to the coalition of private and public leaders worked to create an innovative financial solution to address this need.”

The new fund is unique in its diverse mix of investors aligned with a shared purpose and commitment to the community. Founding investors include:

  • Affordable Housing Trust for Columbus and Franklin County
  • Columbia Gas/NiSource Charitable Foundation
  • The Columbus Foundation
  • Fifth Third Bank
  • Heartland Bank
  • Huntington National Bank
  • L Brands
  • Nationwide
  • Park National Bank
  • PNC

“If we are committed to providing a solid foundation for families to thrive in Columbus, then we must start with affordable housing,” said Columbus City Councilmember Shayla Favor. “This is just the beginning. I am proud and humbled by the collaborative nature and spirit of community that reverberates throughout the City.”   

“Affordable housing is one of the great challenges facing our community.  Franklin County is thriving, but we’re not a success unless all of our residents can afford to live here,” said Board of Commissioners President Marilyn Brown.  “We remain committed to supporting affordable housing for our residents, and that’s why the county puts nearly $17 million toward this issue each year.  We are excited about what today’s announcement means for this community as we move forward with the private sector to improve affordable housing options across Franklin County.”

The Housing Action Fund will offer quick-strike and longer term dollars to support organizations committed to affordable housing in a very competitive market. This fund gives the City of Columbus and Franklin County the ability to fund housing development, home repair and modification, and targeted renter assistance.

“We are honored to stand alongside all the investors, inspired by the recent call to action from our Mayor and County Commissioners, to ensure our economic tool kit includes private dollars that can be repeatedly leveraged to create more safe, dignified and affordable homes for our community,” said Steve Steinour, President and CEO of Huntington National Bank, who led the effort in gathering founding investors.  “This is a significant opportunity for banks, foundations and corporations in central Ohio to join in partnership with our City and County to advance a highly replicable model and innovative source of capital needed to ensure more of our families have a place to call home.”

“This is an historic investment into our community that will address a critical need today and pay dividends for generations to come,” said Doug Kridler, President and CEO of The Columbus Foundation. “With Franklin County projected to grow by another 200,000 people to a population of nearly 1.5 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 21st century.”

According to a BIA study, there are 8,000 units built each year in Columbus. In order to meet the needs of Franklin County and Columbus residents this number must increase to 14,000 units per year. Through this fund, an additional 2,150 units of mixed-income rental housing will be able to be created and preserved.

“The Affordable Housing Trust for Columbus and Franklin County is proud of our collaboration with the city, county and community partners establishing the Housing Action Fund, which will leverage the community’s investments to build and preserve affordable housing,” said Robert Weiler, chairman of The Robert Weiler Company and chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Affordable Housing Trust, which will underwrite and approve loans issued by the fund.

"The Affordable Housing Alliance is so gratified that community leaders at all levels understand both the magnitude of the affordable housing gap and the benefit of affordable homes for all of our residents,” said E.J. Thomas, Chair of the Affordable Housing Alliance. “This commitment of significant new public, private, and philanthropic resources achieves the funding goal in the Alliance 3-Year Start-Up Plan and puts us solidly on the path to meeting the Franklin County affordable housing challenge.”

The fund will provide below-market loans to for-profit and non-profit developers. All properties financed by the fund are required to have an affordability commitment and strategy. The fund will give priority and provide incentives to projects that average 60 percent AMI rents or below, or less than $1,200 a month for a three-person household.