As housing costs continue to increase across the nation, so does the stress on lower income and middle-class families in Columbus, Ohio. The problem? Too many residents, not enough affordable places to live.
A recent report found over half of homeowners in Central Ohio are spending most of their income on housing costs. To be considered affordable, housing expenses should represent no more than 30% of a household’s income, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Carlie Boos, executive director of the Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio, says the area’s housing supply is struggling to keep pace with the population.
This very underbuilding of housing is one of the key drivers of housing costs. As of August 2023, Columbus home prices were up 7.3% in comparison to 2022, selling for a median price of $279,000 and there were just 1,051 homes sold in August this year, down from 1,203 in 2022 in Columbus. Just five years ago, the median cost of housing in the city was $174,000 – almost 38% less than this year’s median of $280,000.
To help alleviate Central Ohio’s housing shortage, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther announced the Columbus Housing Strategy in 2022. The main objectives of the program are to build twice as much housing, invest in additional affordable housing for lower income families, protect residents from eviction, and foster more economically diverse neighborhoods.
The current housing crisis affects not only homeowners, but also renters. Fortunately for some residents, Ohio is one of five remaining states in which a resident cannot be evicted due to being short on rent costs or being one day late on their rent, according to Ohio.gov.
“This is a policy that has certainly been something that helps keep my mind at ease,” said Kyra Bailey, an Ohio native.
Ohio renters also have the right to complain to a government agency if a landlord violates housing laws or regulations.
If disputes with a landlord arise, tenants can opt to escrow their rent. Escrowing means that a tenant deposits their rental payments with the clerk of the municipal or county court, depending on where you live, instead of paying your landlord.
Before a tenant can escrow their rent, they must first wait 30 days after notifying the landlord of their failure to fulfill their lease obligations.
Ohio still needs to take many steps to tackle the current housing crisis, but some of these policies already in place help ease the burden of continued rise in cost of housing, where lower income families are fighting to keep their homes.
This piece was done in conjunction with journalism students taught by Heloisa Sturm Wilkerson (PhD, University of Texas at Austin) Assistant Professor of Journalism in the Communication Department of Purdue University Fort Wayne.
This content is distributed in a partnership between Purdue University Fort Wayne and the Fort Wayne Media Collaborative, a group of media outlets and educational institutions in Fort Wayne committed to solutions-oriented reporting. More information is available at fwmediacollaborative.com.