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Ohio REALTORS testifies in support of affordable housing

Ohio REALTORS testifies in support of affordable housing

Mar 31, 2022

The following is testimony offered by Andy Mills on behalf of the more than 36,000 members of Ohio REALTORS. Mills, of Columbus, serves as chairman of the Ohio REALTORS 2022 Legislative Steering Committee. He testified before the Ohio Federally Assisted Housing Study Committee, which includes fellow REALTOR Mic Gordon, during a hearing on March 30.

It is no secret that Ohio has crisis-level housing shortages across the state. Although housing shortages are typically noticed first in large metropolitan areas, we have rural communities across state that have no housing available for the workforce in those areas. In fact, there are communities that are forced to bus in employees from large metropolitan areas as there are no housing options in that area.

As mentioned, Ohio’s largest cities are facing historical housing shortages. According to a study conducted by Rosen Consulting Group, looking at all large markets in the United States with 1-3 million residents, Ohio has three cities on the top ten most underbuilt cities list: Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland. The shortfall in residential housing production is across all types of housing including luxury, workforce, and federally subsidized affordable housing. However, production of two-to-four-unit structures, likely considered workforce housing, fell by nearly 75% during the last two decades. Ohio needs more housing options.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Ohio has a shortage of 252,027 affordable rental homes available for extremely low-income Ohioans. Extremely low-income is defined as someone in Ohio who makes less than $25,750 and include senior citizens, disabled Ohioans, single caregivers, people enrolled in school and our labor workforce. In short, they are our neighbors and friends, and Ohio REALTORS supports policies to encourage development of all types of housing, including federally subsidized affordable housing.

Affordable housing plays a very important role in our economic growth and the future of our great state. It is important to note that affordable housing has a positive impact on not only our neighborhoods, but it provides an opportunity for a person to save for their next home, whether it is renting a market-rate apartment or saving for their first house. In many communities, high quality federally subsidized affordable housing have lifted neighborhoods up. Many affordable housing developments are often the only significant investments made in certain communities. Often, blighted or distressed real estate is purchased and re-developed into attractive, high-quality housing, thereby removing neighborhood blight and subsequently raising valuations of nearby housing. The developments bring commerce, jobs, tax revenue and increased property tax revenue from nearby homes that then flow to schools and other public services. In short, affordable housing can stabilize and improve neighborhoods. More importantly, affordable housing can give our neighbors a place to call home.

However, with low inventory and quickly rising home prices, we encourage this Study Committee to consider the growing need for more affordable housing. We ask you to establish policies that will encourage affordable housing development, not disincentivize it.

Additionally, Ohio REALTORS encourages the Study Committee to consider adopting the Affordable Housing Identification Program (AHIP) that had been introduced and presented at a previous hearing by the Ohio Housing Council. AHIP represents a common-sense approach to establish a fair, transparent and uniform method across Ohio that allows for affordable housing properties to be easily identified without significant administrative burden. The AHIP could achieve the goal of dramatically reducing the volume of real estate tax appeals (resulting in costs to Auditor, school boards and owners) and to eliminate the burden on the Boards of Revision and Board of Tax Appeals.

Ohio needs to be intentional with how it approaches federally subsidized affordable housing and avoid significant policy changes that would disincentivize affordable housing, or any type of housing. We believe the AHIP is a reasonable approach that should be further explored.

We would also like to take the opportunity to mention Ohio REALTORS has commissioned a study to be completed by the University of Cincinnati Economics Center to further explore the housing shortage in Ohio, across several communities large and small.  The study will also provide state-level policy recommendations that we can use to guide our advocacy work with the General Assembly. Once the study is complete, we will share that information with policymakers across the state including members of this Study Committee.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. 

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