Editorial: Thrive Alliance affordable housing plan promising

Mike Wolanin | The Republic The former Columbus Transitional Care and Rehabilitation, 2100 Midway St., is proposed to be redeveloped for 128 affordable housing units.

There was some rare good news on the affordable housing front last week. Thrive Alliance is planning to develop up to 128 affordable housing units on the site of a vacant Columbus nursing home, and the plan cleared a preliminary hurdle.

It’s early yet, but nonprofit Housing Partnerships Inc., which does business as Thrive Alliance, recently received a favorable recommendation from the Columbus Plan Commission to rezone the former Columbus Transitional Care and Rehabilitation property at 2100 Midway St. to allow the planned development. The rezoning and other steps require further approval, including from the city council.

As The Republic’s Andy East reported, the planned development would house lower-income families as well as seniors by providing Section 8 housing. The development also would provide much-needed day care services for the wider community.

“We’re still in the concept (phase), trying to get all the pieces put together of what we need,” said Kevin Johnson, executive director of Housing Partnerships at Thrive Alliance. “Of course, part of what will sway what we decide will be the housing study that Columbus is going through right now. … Our dream will be to put a multifamily project on the site.”

“Of course, everything is contingent on funding,” Johnson added. The project has an estimated price tag of $14 million, and given funding, demolition, development and construction time, the units would not be available to tenants for at least a couple of years.

Here is a place where the city’s housing study due this summer can meet real progress on beginning to address the obvious need for affordable housing in Columbus. Working with nonprofits such as Thrive Alliance and others, local, state and federal government units charged with furthering access to affordable housing can model plans that don’t just address housing, but also provide solutions for other community needs. These units of government also can and should unlock low- or no-interest funding and pursue grants to fund these developments.

Thrive Alliance plans for the proposed development to have 64 units for families and 64 for seniors, East reported, “with hopes of connecting the two areas and setting up an area for the seniors to connect with young people living in the family development to ‘help break down social isolation.’”

This is a welcome idea, particularly as the physical and mental health impacts of isolation and loneliness are becoming better understood.

Nonprofits such as Thrive Alliance are and will be critical in addressing affordable housing. Thrive has proposed a responsible reuse of a suitable property that is responsive to real needs in our community, and we commend them.

In our view, the city should do everything it can to assist in bringing this project to fruition and proactively seek other nonprofits and community partners who have the vision and the wherewithal to responsibly turn those visions into affordable housing.