Economic Development

Huntington Commits $150M to Affordable Housing

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CLEVELAND – Huntington National Bank said Wednesday that it intends to dedicate another $150 million to affordable housing in Ohio this year and next.

Its chairman, president and CEO, Steve Steinour, and Hal Keller, president of Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing, presided at a press event here Wednesday with Cuyahoga County officeholders and civic and community leaders to announce the commitment.

None of the $150 million is committed to the Mahoning Valley, Keller said afterward in a telephone interview, but that could change this summer.

Keller heads the nonprofit agency that, during its 28 years, has provided 42,000 units of affordable housing in 86 of the 88 counties in Ohio. The recent refurbishment of International Towers in downtown Youngstown is one, he noted.

Ohio Capital has 87 applications awaiting U.S. Department of the Treasury review, Keller said, that the Huntington commitment would finance.

As of yesterday, Ohio Capital has “35 projects ready to go,” Keller said, but the closest to the Mahoning Valley are in Portage and Ashtabula counties.

The timing of the press event was spurred by concerns about changes in the tax code the Trump Administration has proposed, Keller said in the interview and Steinour said in the Huntington press release.

“When we learned that affordable housing development was stalling because of potential changes to the federal tax code, we immediately responded,” Steinour said. “We believe it is vital to continuously support adequate housing for those who require it most. We hope our new commitment will help accelerate the rate of investment by others in partnership with Ohio Capital Corp. to keep Ohio affordable housing starts and refurbishment projects on track.”

The $150 million would take the form of tax credits Huntington Bank would earn, Keller said. The 2017-2018 commitment would help nearly 5,600 residents of Ohio, result in some 3,700 units of housing, new and refurbished, and support 2,800 jobs in the construction trades, Huntington said.

The Columbus-based bank with some $100 billion in assets has earned from the Treasury Department $100 million in tax credits for 2010-2012, $150 million for 2013-2015 and another $113 million in 2016, it said.

For each dollar Treasury grants as a tax credit, Huntington’s federal tax bill is reduced by a dollar under the New Markets Tax Credit program begun during the Clinton Administration.

The Treasury Department awards the credits, almost entirely to financial services institutions, usually banks, to finance projects in low-income U.S. Census tracts that otherwise wouldn’t be built because of the higher risk of default.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.