June 20, 2024

Columbus State plans new affordable housing development near its campus

Columbus State Community College recently unveiled its plan to build a 160-unit affordable housing complex near its campus in Columbus.

The $47 million project, dubbed Opportunity Pointe, will be a joint-venture between Columbus State’s non-profit real estate affiliate, Columbus State Community Partners, and affordable housing developer Woda Cooper Companies, Inc.

20 units will be reserved exclusively for Columbus State students who are facing housing insecurity.

“These are not dorms,” said Zach Woodruff, the chief real estate development officer for Columbus State. “The fundamental difference is dorms are owned and managed through the college or university. These are owned and managed by a third party, in this case the Woda Cooper Company.”

A shot of Nestor Hall and the Center for Technology and Learning at Columbus State. Photo by Marvin Wurr

The 160-unit project will feature 140 affordable housing units under the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. These cannot be restricted to students, though some Columbus State students may qualify for these units based on other criteria, such as income.

“It’s been well-documented that there is a housing crisis going on in central Ohio,” said Woodruff. “Not only, you know, for the lack of units but the lack of attainable affordable housing. And so, in a college’s most recent student survey, 60% of the respondents identified some level of housing insecurity as a potential barrier or an obstacle to be able to continue or finish their education.”

According to Woodruff, affordable housing near and around the Columbus State campus would eliminate another obstacle for students hoping to continue their education.

The housing shortage in central Ohio remains a hot-button issue, with Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin identifying it as a problem that needs to be addressed.

“The folks that we’ve engaged with, the stakeholders in not only the Discovery District but the downtown area as a whole have been very supportive of this project,” said Woodruff. “From leaders at the county and the Downtown Development Commission to leaders at the city of Columbus and the Development Department and others.”

Central Ohio is short between 40,000 and 55,000 housing units; Woodruff hopes the relatively modest 160-unit housing project will start to chip away at those numbers.

The Ohio Housing Finance Agency assessed the net loss in affordable housing for lower-income Ohioans, noting that of the approximately 447,717 extremely low-income renters in Ohio, only 177,318 affordable rental homes were made available to them, a shortage of about 270,399 housing units.

Their report also notes that Ohioans have increasingly spent more of their income on rent, thus compounding issues regarding housing insecurity.

Columbus State previously partnered with the university to provide affordable housing for students, via the former’s Success Bridge program.

“Capital was an original partner with Success Bridge,” said Brent Wilder, director of strategic communications at Columbus State. “Trinity Lutheran Seminary had some apartments across the street that Capital obtained in taking over Trinity. Those units were utilized for Success Bridge… as that program sunset over its three years, those units were migrated by Capital onto a sale basis, so they are no longer utilized.”

As for the 20 units reserved exclusively for Columbus State students, these types of units typically do not have year-long leases.

“Traditionally, previously they were for students who were within so many credit hours of graduation,” said Woodruff. “The goal being that they’ve completed their studies here at Columbus State and have potentially obtained a higher-paying job and then are able to obviously transition to housing that they can afford.”

Author

  • Marvin Wurr

    Marvin is a third-year English literature major. In his free time he enjoys hanging out with friends at bars and watching straight-to-DVD action flicks.

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