The Columbus Dispatch, in partnership with The Columbus Foundation, deserves praise for presenting the Columbus Conversation: "Can People Afford to Live Here?" on Dec. 14.
The community forum identified many issues about the affordable housing crisis in Greater Columbus and highlighted many of the innovative approaches’ community leaders are working toward to address the challenge.
The affordable housing crisis is not unique to our region – it’s a problem throughout the entire nation.
For decades, new housing production has lagged behind household growth in our country, resulting in a severe shortage of affordable homes. In 2021, the U.S. faced an estimated shortage of between 5.5-6.8 million units, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
To close this "underbuilding gap," the center projects the U.S. would need to construct 60% more units than were created in 2020 over the next decade.
Unfortunately, no magic wand solution is imminent that will solve the crisis overnight in Central Ohio and beyond.
The Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA), administers nearly 13,000 federal vouchers in Franklin County, and provides rental assistance to a total of 80,000 households (250,000 individuals) throughout Ohio and Washington D.C. In 2021, we issued over 5,160 vouchers in Franklin County.
Approximately 1,700 families out of those 5,160 vouchers are actively looking for a place to call home in Greater Columbus, even though they have a Housing Choice Voucher.
An important activity discussed during the Columbus Conversation that deserves greater attention is CMHA’s heightened efforts to entice more landlords and property owners to consider renting units that qualify as affordable housing to Housing Choice Voucher recipients.
Through CMHA’s Landlord Incentive Program, we are now incentivizing landlords by paying security deposits and vacancy payments just for bringing new units into the program.
We spent over $1.4 million on this program in 2021, utilizing our allocated budget. More than 420 new landlords were added to our Housing Choice Voucher program, generating housing for over 1,100 new residents.
That is why CMHA is devoting another $1 million in 2022 to continue to build on the success of this new initiative.
CMHA will pay landlords up to $750 just for bringing a new unit into the program. We also will provide security deposit payments up to $750 for the voucher holder.
We believe these cash incentives can lead even more new property owners and landlords to joining forces with CMHA to combat the affordable housing crisis.
Another reason a landlord should join CMHA’s incentive program is that it’s government-backed, so the money is a guaranteed payment.
And lastly, providing a voucher holder with a place to live demonstrates that landlords and property owners are committed to helping solve the affordable housing crisis in central Ohio. It is important to note that no number is too small, even one unit can help a family.
As our community grows, it will be vital to ensure that all families who live and work in Columbus can afford to remain here.
While our Landlord Incentive Program isn’t a sweeping fix, these are just some successful ways that CMHA is looking to partner with landlords and property owners to help families in our community receive housing.
For more information visit cmhanet.com.
Charles D. Hillman is the president and CEO of the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: How to qualify for the Landlord Incentive Program in Columbus, Ohio.