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In Columbus, the need for innovative approaches to attainable housing has never been greater

The need for quality, attainable housing in Central Ohio is real and urgent. Our neighbors, new and old, are finding it harder and harder to live comfortably—financially and otherwise. 

That’s why Betterhood initiated the Entrepreneurial Housing project as a way to address housing and home-ownership in a new way. A way which strengthens neighborhoods, retains economic value within the communities it originates, makes entrepreneurs out of residents, and provides an innovative path forward in the housing conversation in Columbus and beyond.

With the Mayor’s 2020 State of the City address focusing heavily on neighborhoods and the ongoing affordable housing crisis, the need as never been greater than now to create, test and deploy solutions that reflect a different way of thinking.

Recent articles in Columbus Business First and the Columbus Dispatch have highlighted some of the issues surrounding the topic of affordable housing. Excerpted below is a piece from the Columbus Dispatch Editorial Board, which can be read in full here.

When it comes to making an area livable, some requirements are non-negotiable. People want good jobs, good schools, safe streets, short commutes, leisure-time options and affordable housing. It’s that last item that is becoming more difficult to check off in central Ohio.

For starters, what is affordable to some may be wildly out of reach to others. Low-income families that spend more than half of their income to keep a roof over their head face an estimated shortage of 54,000 housing units lacking to fill their needs.

The conundrum is of concern not only to those who would like to move or buy their first home but also to residential developers, community leaders and government officials. At stake if this trend continues is whether central Ohio can continue the kind of robust economic growth it has enjoyed in the past decade and fulfill expectations of adding one million new residents to the region by 2050.

In national rankings, Columbus consistently scores high among cities of its size for affordability — which likely contributes to the prediction for population growth — but the area’s attractiveness for the business relocation and expansion anticipated to fuel that growth could be threatened by frustration new residents could encounter in finding a place to live.

And as residential developers lamented last fall, it is getting harder to build new homes for prices that buyers can afford under $300,000. Year to year, the median sale price of Columbus homes has steadily risen from $170,000 in 2016, to $181,500 in 2017, $195,000 in 2018 and $209,900 in 2019. In comparison, the median price of a new single-family home in the area in July was $339,000.

It will take creative new approaches by private and public developers and lenders, continued collaboration among government and nonprofits, a little less NIMBYism and a little more tolerance for density to get central Ohio back on track to meet housing needs.

This region’s continued prosperity depends on solving stubborn housing challenges.

Betterhood couldn’t agree more, and we look forward to bringing solutions forward to strengthen the future of our region.

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