With a healthy job market and lively attractions, Columbus is among the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. But the boom feels more like a bust to many residents whose lives are compromised by the high cost of housing.
With affordable housing in short supply in Central Ohio, low-wage earners and their children are forced to live in inadequate housing where they can experience health problems, struggle academically, and become mired in economic distress. Without affordable and safe housing options, it’s hard for parents to make life better for their children.
Affordable and accessible housing is so scarce for lower-income seniors and persons with disabilities that they too often reside in institutional-style facilities, lowering their quality of life and raising costs for taxpayers.
Everyone deserves a stable foundation in life
A stable home provides a solid platform for positive growth, vibrant neighborhoods, and economic prosperity. When housing is safe and affordable, individuals have a stable foundation to pursue healthy lifestyles, education, and better jobs. As growing numbers of older adults prefer to age in place, their home becomes their refuge and health-care center.
Strong communities offer a continuum of housing choices and create paths to home-ownership, empowering families and contributing to Franklin County’s economic growth. Affordable housing promotes a livable community for everyone, fosters diversity, and makes Columbus a magnet for career professionals and families alike.
Housing insecurity is on the rise
Housing costs are stressing the wallets and lives of a growing number of Columbus-area residents. Of the lowest-income households in Franklin County, 54,000 spend more than half their income on housing. They live in housing they really can’t afford, because their income is insufficient. Similarly, inadequate income and savings to afford a downpayment and housing costs are powerful barriers to home-ownership for low-income and minority families.
In 2017, a worker in Franklin County would have to earn $17.04 an hour to afford the market rent of $886 for a two-bedroom apartment for herself and her child – or more than double the minimum wage. At this income, she would have to labor 84 hours per week, just to keep a roof over their heads, let alone pay for food, doctor’s bills, and transportation to work.
Economic, housing market, and population trends are creating a growing housing affordability gap
- Of the 10 occupations in the Columbus region with the most annual openings, only one (registered nurse) pays enough (at or above $17.04/hour) to afford housing.
- Rents are rising at twice the pace of income.
- The poverty population has grown more than 3 times the rate of the overall population (2009-2014). Poverty rates have gone up in nearly all suburbs.
Lack of safe, affordable housing puts families at risk
Too often, high housing costs push people out of their homes. The Community Shelter Board reports that the number of homeless families went up by 64% in 2015, compared to 2011. In 2016, Franklin County had 17,889 eviction filings.
Housing-insecure households, those spending more than half of their monthly income on housing, often have family members who suffer from health problems caused by their substandard surroundings such as asthma, injuries and traumatic stress caused by violence. The damages are even more acute for people with disabilities, infants and older adults. Children in unstable housing perform worse in school.
The Alliance has a plan to reduce the affordable housing gap
Investing in affordable homes pays off for families, employers, schools, and communities. See our 3-Year Start-Up Plan at the link below: