The Ohio Senate’s proposed budget axed a new affordable housing tax credit program first introduced by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in his budget.
The program would entice developers to construct low-incoming housing by making state tax credits accessible to projects receiving federal aid, but the Senate killed it.
DeWine originally capped the amount of credits to $100 million, and the House boosted it to $500 million.
Instead, the Senate proposed to expand a law that prohibits Low-Income Housing Tax Credit properties from getting a historic rehabilitation tax credit to any other federally subsidized residential rental property.
“We were in no way, shape ,or form ready for the all out assault that the Senate took on rental housing,” said Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO) Executive Director Amy Riegel. “The state housing tax credits was going to be a tool that would have greatly enhanced the number of affordable housing units being built across the state.”
In 2018, there were only 199,118 affordable and available rental units for 455,993 extremely low-income renters and a shortage of 256,875 units in Ohio, according to a 2021 Ohio Housing Finance Agency report.
“Too many Ohio families lack adequate and affordable housing,” DeWine said during his 2023 State of the State Address. “In recent years, we have experienced lower rates of housing construction and low vacancy rates in rental properties. This has put a strain on our housing market, especially affecting Ohioans with low and moderate incomes.”
Full-time workers in Ohio needed to make at least $17.05 an hour to afford a 2-bedroom apartment in Ohio in 2022, according to a joint report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) and COHHIO.
“After generations of under investment, working families across Ohio are being locked out of dignified, affordable housing,” said Carlie J. Boos, executive director of the Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio.
She praised both DeWine’s and the House’s budgets, calling them “a significant step forward that allows Ohio to create decent homes that our workers and their families can afford.”
The Senate introduced their version of the budget Tuesday with proposed changes likely coming next week. DeWine must sign the budget by June 30.
Abolishing the Ohio Housing Finance Agency
The Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) has a proposed budget of $16.8 million for fiscal year 2024 and $17.4 for fiscal year 2025 — a nearly 8% percent decrease for both years when compared to the House’s version of the budget.
But the OHFA would cease to exist as it currently operates under the Senate’s budget by transferring the organization to the newly established Governor’s Office of Housing Transformation starting in January.
“This action politicizes the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, an organization that is not supposed to be political, and it will create significant barriers to the creation of affordable housing,” Riegel said.
When reached for comment, OHFA said they are continuing to review the Senate’s budget.
While all the current employees of OHFA would be kept on staff, this would give the governor the ability to pick the director and appoint all new members.
The number of Tax Credit Authority members would increase from five to seven and the office would have to get the green light from the Tax Credit Authority before approving funding for multifamily rental housing.
The proposed budget would also nix their authority to create pilot programs to increase housing opportunities for “extremely low-income households, pregnant women, and new mothers,” according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Service Commission.
This story was republished from the Ohio Capital Journal under a Creative Commons license.