Letter: Oppose using city funds for unaffordable rentals

From: Sarah Kilbarger-Stumpff


The Columbus Redevelopment Commission recently approved a proposal to use $5.8 million of city funds to subsidize an unaffordable apartment development. This complex, proposed for the corner of Sixth and Washington streets, will rent units for around $1,300 a month. This same project was up for vote in September, but stalled after considerable public pushback. Since then, there have been design changes, but the request for city subsidy is the same.

I work in a factory in Columbus and make a good wage. However, there is no way I could afford to pay $1,300 each month in rent. The vast majority of my coworkers can’t afford to live in Columbus and commute long distances. I love this town, and I don’t want it to be a community with an income threshold, inaccessible to people of certain economic classes.

Columbus has grappled with a severe lack of affordable housing for years. We have the second highest rent costs in Indiana. If our city has $5.8 million available, why don’t we use this opportunity to work toward solving this long-standing issue?

This past year, through work with Hoosier Action, a local nonpartisan community group, I’ve talked to countless Columbus residents. I’ve heard what they want for our community through tabling, door knocking, and phone banking. Housing consistently emerged as the issue most important to people. Recently, some city councilors hosted an event about solutions to homelessness, and got a turnout far surpassing expectations. Groups across the city, including multiple local churches and the Bartholomew County Democratic Socialists of America have identified housing access as a key issue they want to make change on. Affordable housing was a central topic in our most recent local election.

From all parts of the community, Columbus residents are making our priorities clear — we care about housing! We want people to have access to safe, quality, affordable housing. And we want our local government to use its funds to further this goal, as opposed to continuing to build housing exclusively for a certain portion of our community that has access to lots of money.

Columbus leads the region in many areas. I would love for us to strive to be a leader in affordability, livability, and housing access as well. I urge our leaders to work toward a town where all our community members, regardless of means, are welcome to live here and thrive. I call on them to listen to so many of their constituents, who have made it clear time and again that affordable housing is a top priority for them. To my fellow Columbus residents — make your voices heard! Contact your city council representative and tell them how you want city money to be used. Show up to the council meeting where they’re voting on this issue on Dec. 5. I’ll see you there.