Follow The Republic:
Columbus needs more homes at both extremes of the economic spectrum, but especially for lower-income households, according to preliminary results of a city housing survey.
Nearly 50 city housing surveys have been returned, representing feedback from major employers, developers, service providers, property managers and landlords, said Carl Malysz, the city’s community development director. More surveys are expected to be returned, and some other groups have yet to receive surveys, he said.
Malysz said both public housing and public assistance for housing are overburdened. For example, hundreds of local students live in situations in which two families share a home or apartment.
“The lower you go on the area median income ... the more difficult it is to say that we have enough affordable housing,” Malysz said.
Malysz last week presented the Columbus Redevelopment Commission with an update on the housing survey, expected to be completed this fall.
The city has contracted with Bloomington-based Strategic Development Group to analyze the existing housing supply, demand and market conditions to identify gaps and barriers in all price ranges, Malysz said.
Malysz said he was stunned about data from Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. indicating that 428 students lived with their families in an apartment or house shared with a second family. Another 53 students lived in shelters or similar arrangements.
The 428 represented 4 percent of the district’s 11,050 students, said Larry Perkinson, school liaison officer for the Bartholomew Consolidated district.
“That’s a huge number,” Malysz said.
Those families, he said, probably would like to live in their own home, but cannot because they lack adequate income and/or are dealing with other challenges.
Preliminary data indicates that some families are rent-burdened, meaning they use 30 percent or more of their income for housing, including utilities, Malysz said.
Others are considered extremely rent-burdened, meaning their commit at least 50 percent of their income to housing.
The American Communities Survey for 2009-11 showed Columbus had 6,565 rental households. Of those:
2,599, or nearly 40 percent, were rent burdened.
1,134, or 17 percent, were extremely rent-burdened.
Low-income housing at capacity
Housing Partnerships Inc., which provides nearly 200 homes to low-income earners and the elderly, has seen essentially at full occupancy for several years, said Mark Lindenlaub, executive director of the Thrive Alliance, which includes Housing Partnerships Inc.
HPI’s Armory apartments in downtown Columbus, which offer 25 units to seniors, have averaged two vacancies this year, Lindenlaub said.
The alliance also has 96 homes scattered throughout Columbus, with an occupancy rate of between 98 and 100 percent over the past several years.
HPI’s low-income and subsidized housing rents for $580 per month for three-bedroom homes, and $550 per month for two-bedroom homes, Lindenlaub said.
“We’ve got very high demand for those properties,” Lindenlaub said.
The organization is celebrating from 10 to 10:30 a.m. today completed renovations of its Cambridge Square apartments, at 3301 McKinley Ave., which have full occupancy, Lindenlaub said.
Rents at Cambridge Square range from $594 for a one-bedroom unit to $1,096 for a four-bedroom unit. Residents, on average, receive about $350 in subsidies, Lindenlaub said.
“Overall, a pretty high demand on the affordable side,” he said.
One renter’s story
Connie Williams, 56, has lived at Cambridge Square Apartments since Dec. 1, 1988.
Williams had been homeless and staying in a shelter before moving into the apartment complex.
Based on her personal experiences and conversations with Cambridge residents, she thinks there’s always a need for more low-income housing in Columbus.
“Usually the price range is what makes it hard, and sometimes there is nothing available,” she said.
Williams, who is disabled and on a fixed income, pays $587 for a two-bedroom apartment.
“I get by. I cut a few corners,” she said.
High-end rental housing
And at the high end of the price range, including households with incomes ranging from $50,000 to $150,000, some major employers have indicated that a number of their employees are commuting to Columbus because of the tight rental housing market, Malysz said.
The Cole apartments, at 200 Jackson St. in downtown Columbus, opened in the first part of the year. Its units are marketed to people with higher-end incomes, with monthly rent in the 146-unit building ranging from $870 to $1,190, depending on whether a unit has one or two bedrooms and bathrooms, according to The Cole’s website.
If some executives are staying in nearby communities rather than in Columbus because of an inadequate housing supply, Malysz said, local developers may be able to address that issue by developing new subdivisions.
If more executives lived in Columbus rather than commuted here, Malysz said the city would gain property tax revenues through the construction of more homes, the community would gain valuable leadership capacity and local businesses would benefit from more customers.
City Editor Kirk Johannesen contributed to this story.
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!
Note: All comments left on our sites are first reviewed by an automated comment moderation system. Your comment may take up to 5 minutes to appear. If for any reason your comment can not be approved you will receive an email from this system with a detailed explanation.
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.