Editor’s note: Homeport is the largest locally-based developer of affordable housing in Central Ohio. High quality partnerships are critical to providing stability and opportunity to our more than 6,200 residents. Affordable Housing Trust for Columbus and Franklin County is the eighth in our partner profile series.
HOMEPORT: Can you tell us about Affordable Housing Trust for Columbus and Franklin County, its history and mission?
AHT: The Affordable Housing Trust for Columbus and Franklin County (AHT), established in 2001, acts as an independent, not-for-profit lender to create affordable home ownership and rental housing to working households and seniors. AHT is funded by the City of Columbus and Franklin County Board of Commissioners.
The Affordable Housing Trust facilitates participation by investment through not-for-profit and for-profit developers, thus leveraging its own funding dollars into projects. Resources are directed at builders and developers, rather than individual households helped by other social service organizations.
HOMEPORT: How does AHT decide whom to support in the affordable housing arena?
AHT: We provide loans for affordable rental, supportive and home ownership projects by leveraging private and public lending and investment. Various housing initiatives are financed in the form of construction, acquisition, rehabilitation and below market rate loans, depending on the needs of the project and the income level of households to be served.
By investing a portion of Affordable Housing Trust funds to fill the gap between value and cost of new or rehabilitated housing, the Trust can raise market values, stimulate private development, and contribute to neighborhood revitalization.
Affordable Housing Trust is a lender with a mission of creating affordable housing. Our lending partners need to meet financial underwriting and provide affordable housing.
HOMEPORT: How does the Affordable Housing Trust view the need for affordable housing in Central Ohio and how are you planning for the population growth likely to impact it?
AHT: The Affordable Housing trust is striving to expand our loan fund by attracting investments from financial institutions and corporations. The impact of population growth on affordable housing is an unknown. If the families coming to Columbus can find jobs that pay enough to afford market rate housing the impact will be less. But if new households cannot afford market rate housing the pressure on the affordable segment of the rental market will increase. The Affordable Housing Trust in conjunction with our developer partners, like Homeport, are trying to close the affordability gap now to lessen any future demand.
HOMEPORT: Besides creating much needed affordable housing, how does the Affordable Housing Trust create additional value to the community?
AHT: The financial investment in affordable housing has a powerful economic impact for Franklin County. Last year, the Affordable Housing Trust investments of $20.1 million in below market loans resulted in $135.4 million in new economic activity, sustained 736 jobs and added or preserved 654 units of affordable housing.
HOMEPORT: How does an organization like Homeport fit into the overall vision of the Affordable Housing Trust?
AHT: Homeport is a key partner and has successfully borrowed more funds from the Affordable Housing Trust than any other developer in Franklin County. The below market interest rate borrowing has allowed Homeport to create affordable housing in many neighborhoods in Franklin County.
HOMEPORT: What does the Affordable Housing Trust for Columbus and Franklin County envision as its key characteristics, role and impact 10 years from now?
AHT: Since 2001 when the Affordable Housing Trust became operational, strong leadership and vision by the Board has positioned the Affordable Housing Trust to adjust to the needs of our developer partners to allow them to meet their affordable housing goals. The Board will continue its leadership role in addressing affordable housing needs in Franklin County.