Affordable housing still issue despite more building

Columbus has struggled for years to provide enough housing for an increasing workforce, with supply and demand out of balance. That’s starting to change.

A positive piece of news shared Nov. 12 at an economic outlook presentation at the Columbus Learning Center was that residential building permits were up 20 percent year-over-year.

Some of the increase is coming from builders who are establishing new subdivisions, and some of it is coming from new multi-family housing that’s being built.

However, demand for housing is still tight. As a result, the cost of housing — especially nice rental complexes — exceeds the ability for too many people to afford it.

Affordable housing units also are coming onto the market, including the Gateway Apartments, but demand is so high that units are nearly full before they’re even ready for occupancy.

Having a sufficient and affordable supply of housing is an ongoing challenge that affects local employers’ ability to recruit talented people to fill open positions. It’s also a reason why some commuters continue to live elsewhere while working in Columbus.

The city’s work to help developers receive highly competitive tax credits is laudable, but it’s only a good start on more work that’s needed.

Keeping up with the demand is an ongoing problem that will require continued diligence by multiple local stakeholders. The solutions they come up with can have significant benefits to the community and its residents.