Replacing Dilapidated Ohio Housing Will Aid Lower Income Residents

The Central Ohio housing market may be growing at a record pace, but there is still a lack of affordable housing options for low income families. Policymakers have discussed some of the ways that they can address these problems. One of their options is by replacing some of the abandoned houses that are falling apart around the state.

New Report Shows Need to Replace Abandoned Housing

housing-market-reportsPolicy Matters Ohio recently published a report that showed the problems with the state housing market. The report said that many foreclosed properties have fallen into disarray. These properties have been held by lenders since the foreclosure crisis took hold nearly a decade ago. They probably won’t be sold anytime soon, since they are in dire need of repair.

Policy Matters Ohio said that these properties should be replaced. Their presence could threaten prices of other properties, which could derail the state’s otherwise stellar performing housing market.

The question is what to do with the land if these buildings are torn down. Some groups recommend replacing these buildings with units that would house low income families, since there is a great need for that.

Replacing housing units would also benefit the state taxpayers. The number of residents receiving assistance for public housing has been elevated in recent years. In fact, a recent report from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Inspector General showed that nearly 400 families are receiving housing aid that they aren’t eligible for. Some of these families are generating six figure household incomes, which means that they are taking up spaces that are needed by people without the resources. Local housing officials are given discretion over enforcing these policies, but many of them have been reluctant to take action.

While some of these families are actually making high incomes, the shortage of available housing units in many parts of the state is a driving factor. The state recognizes the need to increase the supply of housing for middle and working class families, but has yet to release any substantive proposals to address the issue. The state legislature is currently discussing a new bill (HB 134) that would expedite the process of acquiring, destroying and transferring properties, but some details may still need to be ironed out.

Many policymakers will likely be swayed by the recent report and may consider trying to purchase foreclosed units to develop new affordable housing programs.


The Paradox of Expensive Rent for Low Income Ohio Residents

The economic recovery is finally starting to gain traction in Ohio. However, the turnaround isn’t benefiting everyone equally. The prices of rent in low income communities are rising rapidly, although the incomes of those residents have remained tepid. Many housing experts, economists and policymakers argue that this trend underscores the need to create more affordable housing units in Central Ohio.

Average Resident Struggles to Afford Local Rent

The National Low Income Housing Coalition recently released the 2015 Out of Reach Report, which studied the number of residents that could afford a two bedroom apartment. The report showed that the highest wage needed to afford such an apartment was $14.13 an hour. This actually made Ohio the 10th most affordable housing market for low income families. On the surface, this sounds like Ohio residents are faring better than their counterparts in other parts of the country, but this analysis only factors one side of the equation.

The problem is that median wages in Ohio are lower than 34 other states.  Wages for low income residents are even more problematic. The state has a minimum wage of $For-Rent-Yard-Sign8.10 an hour and an average wage of $12 an hour, which is over $2 less than needed to afford an average two bedroom.

Bill Faith, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO) said that the situation is fairly grim for many low income workers. “”Everyday in Ohio, people are having to make the tough choice between food and rent,”” said Faith. ““These are people who have served our country during wartime, people with disabilities, senior citizens, and people who are working multiple minimum wage jobs and still not making ends meet. So while Ohio is far from the most expensive housing state in the country, it’s unreasonable to have to work 70 hours per week to put a modest roof over your head.”

The situation may not be as dire for the average worker as Faith and some advocates argue. It fails to take into account that most people renting two-bedroom apartments are sharing with spouses or roommates, which means that they will multiple streams of income to help make the unit more affordable. However, even many of these people may struggle to pay housing with additional bills that arise. It also shows that single parents are struggling to pay for an apartment that accommodates themselves and their children.

Need for New Housing Units

The real solution to the problem will be to create new housing units for low income families. The problem will eventually correct itself as prices decline to reflect a larger supply of housing for working families. Governor Kasich established  Ohio’s Housing and Homelessness Collaborative to help rectify the problem, which is expected to show results in the coming year.