Homeport is the single largest developer of affordable housing in Central Ohio with more than 5,700 low- and moderate-income residents, half of whom are children. High quality partnerships help us in promoting and providing stability and opportunity to our residents. This is the second in our partner profile series.
Homeport: Tell us about Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing (OCCH), its mission and purpose, and how it relates to the affordable housing industry?
OCCH President Hal Keller: Our mission is “to cause the construction, rehabilitation and preservation of affordable housing." At our core, we are an affordable housing financial intermediary, meaning our job is to access the capital markets for affordable housing. We have raised over $4 billion in private capital from banks and other corporations for investment on Low Income Housing Tax Credit projects. Through our development partners like Homeport we have financed over 45,000 units of affordable housing on about 800 projects. But our activities have grown over the years: we provide training and technical assistance, loans, property management and philanthropic grants to our partners throughout Ohio and Kentucky.
Homeport: What is the history of OCCH?
OCCH/Hal Keller: We were created in 1989. A year earlier, Joe Hagan, the individual who conceived of OCCH while working at the Ohio Housing Finance Agency and then became our first president, approached me about this idea for a nonprofit organization to raise capital for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program. The program was brand new having been passed in 1986 and was not fully being utilized. Joe left OCCH in 1993 and I became president. We started with a staff of three and our first fund was $8.1 million. Now we have a staff of around 180 including our management company, CPO, and raise about $200-$300 million each year. And we have never lost a property.
Homeport: How does OCCH impact Homeport?
OCCH/Hal Keller: OCCH and Homeport work closely together in so many ways. We raise capital for Homeport’s rental housing projects, manage some of the properties through Community Properties of Ohio Management Services (CPO), make predevelopment and acquisition loans, and provide grants for Homeport’s supportive services. An example of these grants are summer camp scholarships for children living in Homeport’s rental housing.
Homeport: What does OCCH envision as its key characteristics, role and impact 10 years from now?
OCCH/Hal Keller: In addition to growing our current activities, I envision OCCH and our affiliates getting more engaged in local community-based solutions to housing and community development challenges throughout Ohio and Kentucky. These often involve anchor institutions such as hospitals and universities that have the financial and political capital to have a real impact on communities. And given the dismal prospects for federal domestic spending, these locally driven efforts are more important than ever. I can see OCCH bringing our suite of services and expertise, including our strong balance sheet, to these efforts which include diverse housing and economic development strategies.