Robert Schottenstein: An Honoree's Perspective

Editor’s Note: M/I Homes will be honored on Oct. 24 as Homeport’s 2019 Voice & Vision honoree. M/I Homes Co-Founder and CEO Irving Schottenstein was a founder and driving force of Homeport until his passing in 2004. M/I Homes Chairman, President & CEO Robert Schottenstein will speak to his father’s legacy at the event. We asked him to share some of his thoughts ahead of time.

By Robert Schottenstein

It is a special honor for me to accept the 2019 Homeport Voice & Vision award on behalf of M/I Homes. Our Company has enjoyed a long and proud history of supporting Homeport and its core mission of creating individual opportunity and dignity through quality affordable housing and strong communities.

Robert Schottenstein

Robert Schottenstein

In order to appreciate and fully understand our Company’s deep relationship with Homeport, it is important to recount a brief summary of Homeport’s history.

In 1986, Jim Rouse, a Columbia, Maryland developer and, at that time, one of the most dynamic and thoughtful real estate leaders in our country, became interested in addressing affordable housing needs in a number of major American cities including Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland, Los Angeles and Columbus. At that time, Jim visited Columbus and was particularly impressed by our strong sense of community . . . he soon realized that Columbus would be receptive to developing a comprehensive effort to help make housing more affordable to everyone who lived in Columbus.

Shortly after Jim’s visit, a number of local developers and families, with help from City leaders, initiated a campaign to raise millions of dollars to help bring low-cost, high-quality housing to Columbus. Though
several local leaders were involved in this initiative, M/I Homes co-founders Irving and Mel Schottenstein, along with Don Kelley, Bob Weiler, and Max Holzer led the way. My dad Irving, who saw the need for affordable housing for working families, and my cousin Mel, who recognized a similar need for an organized shelter system for the homeless, played indispensable leadership roles.

With seed money successfully raised, in 1987, one year after Jim Rouse’s initial visit, The Columbus Neighborhood Partnership (now Homeport) and The Community Shelter Board were established in
Columbus. Irving was a founding board member of Homeport, and Mel was a founding board member of The Community Shelter Board.

Thirty-two years later, Homeport is more important than ever in fulfilling the dreams of its founders by creating a cornerstone of dignity, security and opportunity through quality affordable housing. While there remains significant work to be done in addressing the scourge of a lack of affordable housing, Homeport today clearly has momentum, as evidenced by the following:

  • The Ohio Housing Finance Agency recently awarded Homeport $565,000 for a 32-unit apartment complex for seniors in Whitehall and nearly $900,000 to help finance 50 affordable
    apartments and single-family homes in Linden.

  • Columbus voters in May committed $50 million to spur affordable housing in our city.

  • City leaders and a group of banks led by Huntington committed $100 million to a Housing Action Fund managed by The Affordable Housing Trust for Columbus and Franklin County.

  • Franklin County will be investing $65 million to promote construction of more than 2,000 affordable housing units over the next decade.

Now more than ever, due in large part to the leadership of Homeport, there is widespread acknowledgment of the urgent need to address affordable housing in our region. As Chairman and CEO of M/I Homes, I am extremely proud and humbled by the role that our co-founders, Irving and Mel Schottenstein, undertook back in the 1980’s at the time of the founding of Homeport. And, while we have real momentum today, we must all re-commit ourselves to reaching that day when every family in Central Ohio has a safe, secure, and affordable place to call home.