Three Developments – One Goal
From Milo-Grogan north of Downtown Columbus, to the East Side suburbs of Whitehall and Reynoldsburg, Homeport is busy building or is preparing to construct much needed affordable homes for seniors and families.
“With 54,000 Central Ohio households paying more than half their incomes for housing, affordable housing is a critical need,” says Homeport President & CEO Bruce Luecke. “We at Homeport are committed to helping close this gap.”
Drive along Hamilton Road in Whitehall between Broad and Main Streets and you may notice a three-story brick and stone building near completion. The 64-unit “Hamilton Crossing” apartment building for seniors is winding down in its construction. Leasing is expected to begin in November.
“We definitely anticipate a high demand for the units based on the inquiries. We have had more than 400 inquiries,” said Homeport Senior Vice President of Real Estate Jim Baugh.
Hamilton Crossing is near the southeast corner of Hamilton Road and Etna Road and is restricted to individuals 55 and older.
All units will be leased to individuals earning 60 percent or below the area median income of $74,500. For a one-person family that is $31,260; For a two-person family the max income allowed would be $35,760.
Meanwhile, construction by Homeport is expected to begin in August for 33 single family homes in the Milo-Grogan neighborhood of Columbus. Under program terms outlined by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, the rental homes can be converted to homeownership after 15 years.
“The hot development in Columbus is migrating from Italian Village east to Weinland Park and now further east to Milo-Grogan,” said Homeport Senior Vice President Baugh.
“People see an opportunity [in Milo-Grogan] because the prices are not too high yet. Plus, you have the new big Rogue Fitness manufacturing facility that offers job opportunities,” Baugh added.
Homeport’s commitment to Milo-Grogan is greater than the homes.
“We are not looking to just build homes but be a catalyst to bring in complementary funding beyond the 2016 Tax Credit Award that is allowing us to build them,” Baugh said. “We are looking to do more than just our project, our development. We want to improve the entire neighborhood as much as we can.”
Weather permitting, four to six homes in Milo-Grogan could be completed by the end of 2017. Build out could take a year.
Finally, in mid-July, the Ohio Housing Finance Agency awarded Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) to Homeport to set the stage for building 30 apartments off Livingston Avenue at Haft Drive in Reynoldsburg.
The location is across from Blacklick Metro Park, on a bus-line connecting to job centers, and in a desirable school district. Homeport is set to begin construction the first quarter of 2018, Baugh said.
The developments are coming at a time the Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio (AHACO), of which Homeport is a member, has pinpointed their critical need. According to AHACO:
· The poverty population has grown at more than three times the rate of the overall population (2009-2014) and extends into Columbus suburbs.
· There is only one affordable rental unit for every three renters in poverty.
· Of the top 10 occupations with the most annual openings, nine do not pay workers enough to afford housing. The one exception is Registered Nurses.
· More than 17,000 Central Ohioans are on the application list for a rental subsidy.
Homeport is looking to find funding beyond the competitive LIHTC program to provide more affordable homes for rent-challenged working class individuals, families and the area’s burgeoning senior population, Luecke said.