City officials have been working to increase the amount of housing available in Columbus since a 2014 study outlined the shortage.
The study revealed that almost 2,600 renter-occupied households, about 14 percent of all households in the city, had family incomes of less than $25,000 a year, said Robin Hilber, community programs development coordinator for the city.
However, the affordable-housing supply at the time was 942 units — far short of the need, she said.
Under affordable housing guidelines, tenants are not required to pay more than 30 percent of their monthly income toward rent.
However, the American Communities Survey for 2009-11 showed 40 percent of Columbus renters were using more than 30 percent of their income for housing, and 17 percent were using more than 50 percent of their income on housing.
The city’s Department of Community Development study, by Bloomington-based Strategic Development Group, found similar results. It was commissioned after employees for the city’s largest employer, Cummins Inc., were having difficulty finding housing in the area, Hilber said.
Apartment homes in Columbus’ older neighborhoods, most of which are owned by individual landlords, comprise about 2,100 of the rental units in Columbus — about one-third of the total rental units available, Hilber said.
The other two-thirds of the rental units, about 4,200, are within apartment complexes of eight units or more.
About 1,100 of the units are considered affordable, available to people whose annual income is 60 percent of the Columbus median income or below.
That means about half of the apartments — 3,200 out of about 6,400 units — are considered affordable, Hilber said.
The most recent U.S. Census showed an 18 percent increase from 2000 to 2010 in rent-occupied households in Columbus, she said.
“With more people choosing to rent, the rental market has become highly competitive with landlords raising rents in many areas across the country, and Columbus is no exception,” Hilber said.
With the greater demand for housing in general, complexes that had served low-income households are being converted to market-rate housing to primarily serve professionals and their families, she said.
An example is the Monarch Crossing apartment complex located just off North Marr Road, she said.
“We believe that local housing demand will continue to grow and that additional units will be needed for all income groups, particularly for the affordable market since they were already identified as experiencing a deficit in available housing supply,” Hilber said.
The city is providing incentives to developers to increase the supply of affordable housing, but the competition for state tax credits is high.
Developers for three projects in Columbus applied for state tax credits last year, but all were denied.
The projects were the proposed Gateway Senior Village on 14th Street, Haw Creek Preserve Senior Apartments on 25th Street and St. Bartholomew Flats on Sycamore Street.
Gateway Senior Village and Haw Creek Senior Apartments were proposed as affordable senior-living apartments, while St. Bartholomew Flats was proposed as an affordable family housing complex.
All three were granted 10-year tax abatements by the city, which would have helped close the financing gap and the housing gap if they had been built, Hilber said.
Meanwhile, the need for affordable and market-rate housing in Columbus continues, she said.
“As we open up more market-rate apartments, hopefully that will open up apartments that are affordable,” Hilber said.