Attorney Michael C. Mentel, a partner with the Columbus law firm Isaac Wiles, has represented clients in the private and public sectors for 27 years, concentrating in environmental law, regulatory compliance, renewable energy, government relations and contract law. Mentel is the former Chief Legal Officer for the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio. At one time he was supervising attorney to the Ohio EPA, overseeing the enforcement of Ohio’s remediation and Superfund sites.
A former elected official, Mentel served on the Columbus City Council from 1999 to 2011. He was Council president 2006-2011. While on Council, Mentel worked actively at growing the local economy by attracting, retaining and growing businesses. He became a Homeport Board member the same year he left Council.
Why are you passionate about the Homeport mission?
Over the past 20 years I have had a unique vantage point to see the increasing need for affordable housing in our community and to try to make a positive contribution towards ending that need. This very minute, families, single parents and those who are simply struggling day-to-day are looking for somewhere to call “home.”
Families are searching and hoping for the chance to call something their own, to say, ‘This is my home, and this is where I live.’ I am committed to Homeport because Homeport is committed to those who want to stand up and let the world know that they have a home, and that it belongs to them. I want to stand with them when they tell the world they have a home.
What would you tell a friend who was considering getting involved with Homeport as a donor or volunteer?
If you want to donate to or volunteer for Homeport you will likely reward yourself more than the clients you will assist. What you will experience is the look of a parent who feels pride in the fact that they are providing their family with a place to call home. You will see the happiness of a family that is now part of a neighborhood that shares the sense of community and being a part of something a little larger than themselves.
You will also experience the difference that a home makes in a child’s life. Coming home after school, having a place to do your homework or to invite neighborhood friends over is a big deal to a child, and something that the adult world generally overlooks.
If you want to experience the satisfaction of helping make these dreams a reality then you should become a Homeport volunteer. If you want to know that you have helped put the pride back in a parent’s heart and put the excitement and joy back in a child’s dream, please donate generously to Homeport.
What do you feel is the most critical aspect of affordable housing in Columbus and Central Ohio?
Simply, Columbus is the fastest growing city in the state of Ohio. Our growth stems from the strength of opportunity that our community offers. People view Columbus as the location where they can find a good job, provide a good education for their children and enjoy what the community has to offer. Projections on growth in central Ohio show that it will remain on the incline for some time. Adjustments, better planning, will be needed.
We need to keep in mind, as a community, that some of those who have come to the area to seek opportunity or a new life may reach a road block when they arrive. They will be in need of affordable housing and other social service assistance. It is critical that we fortify the existing collaboration of affordable housing and shelter networks more so than we have in the past.
This fortification must occur on two fronts; first, reinforce our existing affordable housing opportunities and second, develop a strong comprehensive plan to keep ahead of an increasing need for development of affordable housing. I would welcome the opportunity to participate in such comprehensive planning.