Lack of Affordable Housing Could Impede Ohio’s Economic Growth

By Nadia Ramlagan
Ohio News Connection

Congress has a looming end-of-September deadline to complete funding legislation, and federal housing vouchers remain up in the air.

Recent data finds more than 1 million Ohioans live in households that are spending more than half their income on housing costs.

Amy Riegel, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, said a nationwide housing shortage and rising interest rates have put home ownership out of reach for more Ohioans, squeezing the rental market. With an abundance of renters, landlords can raise rents. The problem, Riegel said, is that residents’ incomes haven’t kept pace.

“Of the 10 jobs that the most people occupy in the state of Ohio,” she said, “only two of them are paying enough for a person to be able to afford that modest two-bedroom apartment.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee could maintain current rental vouchers and increase funding for assisting veterans at risk of homelessness and young people who have aged out of foster care. According to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, severely cost-burdened households are more likely than other renters to sacrifice necessities such as food and health care to pay the rent, and to experience evictions.

According to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, in 2022, more than 30,000 new privately owned housing units were constructed in Ohio, but there remains a lack of affordable rental units for low-income residents. Riegel added that a severe shortage of affordable housing could impact employers coming into the state who need workers.

“Our worst fear is that these great companies will bring jobs to Ohio and will be unable to fulfill those workforce needs,” she said, “and that our communities will be left in a position that is worse than it is today.”

Gov. Mike DeWine’s state budget for fiscal year 2024-2025 creates a new low-income housing tax-credit program aimed at increasing rental housing, as well as a tax credit for the construction of single-family homes.

Pictured at top: Rent in Ohio is higher than in any year on record other than 2021 when adjusted for inflation, according to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. (Adobe Stock)

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.