Affordable housing is in the news, both locally and nationally. Presidential candidates are proposing policies and legislation to address it. Central Ohio advocates and political leaders have advanced it on the public agenda.

Increasingly, it’s also on the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) agenda. MORPC and the City of Columbus, along with regional partners, will lead a regional housing strategy as part of an overall initiative to deal with the shortage of housing.

The scope of the effort is to assess the region’s current housing market; determine what public and private dollars are available to incentivize further construction; identify what data are needed to develop regional recommendations; and identify structural impediments to building more housing. The effort will also develop a regional housing strategy that includes investment and policy recommendations for communities to support mixed-income neighborhoods and regional growth.

A key element of the plan is to recommend how to most effectively spend public and private dollars for affordable housing – including funds generated by the city’s $50 million housing bond package approved by voters in May. The housing plan will build on the work of the Affordable Housing Alliance, Franklin County’s poverty and economic development work, Building Industry Association of Central Ohio Housing Need Assessment, and the city’s 2018 Incentives Study.

“We are at a critical moment in the city’s trajectory, facing a shortage of affordable housing at the same time our economy and population are continuing to grow,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “We are looking for effective and strategic plans, not just for Columbus but for the region, that will ensure residents will be able to remain in their neighborhoods without stifling growth and development.”

MORPC’s interest in housing also stems from insight2050 – the strategy to help Central Ohio communities prepare for population growth and demographic changes. As the region’s population approaches 3 million, residents will be seeking a broad range of housing types.

That will be the focus of the Fall 2019 insight2050 Academy, planned in partnership with the OSU Knowlton Alumni Society. Particularly, it will showcase new designs, concepts, and financing strategies for starter homes, workforce housing, and other affordable needs.