OhioMBE Guest Column: We need a big bold plan by Michele Reynolds

Michele Reynolds

We need a big bold plan
by Michele Reynolds

With 54,000 people in Central Ohio paying more than half of their income for housing and a real estate market where rent and sale prices continue to rise, there is a dearth of Affordable Housing in Franklin County causing many low and moderate income residents struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.  We need a big bold plan for housing and job creation in Franklin County. It’s time to get creative and start thinking outside of the box about how to resolve this affordable housing crisis before it gains more momentum. It’s time to take a hard look at public policy and develop creative solutions for public and private partnerships.

Some Ohio cities are finding ways to leverage tools such as Social Impact Bonds, (Leveraging private investment to support high-impact social programs.) We also have the emergence of smart solutions such as  Opportunity Zones, which are a part of the Tax bill in DeWine/ Husted’s Ohio Plan for Prosperity, whereby economically distressed communities that are designated as Opportunity Zones will allow for investors or companies to invest their unrealized capital gains in communities and reward them if they invest for the long haul with no Capital gains taxes. This attracts private investment in Ohio and Franklin Counties most vulnerable neighborhoods where we desperately need affordable housing and job creation.

The public-private partnership leverages private investment and rewards job creators and housing developers to help tackle these social issues.  We need this change.  We need these innovative strategies and solutions that attract talent, entrepreneurship and promote prosperity.  This problem requires all hands on deck, which leaves government, corporations, and landlords to ask themselves the question, “What must I do?”  We need landlords and homeowners to open their doors, educational programs to teach their residents how to be good tenants, builders that are educated about cost-saving quality materials, and investors looking for opportunities to revitalize communities all the while making them more affordable.

My life’s work has been in the area of housing and creating solutions that help marginalized people afford a place to call home.  Central Ohio is behind the 8-ball on this issue, but I plan to bring my expertise to the table and work collectively with other key stakeholders to ensure that the right economic tools are in place to create affordable housing that is within reach for every resident of Franklin County.

Creating affordable housing solutions is a win for all. Every resident of Central Ohio has a part to play from education to investment that will result in success and wealth for all.

Michele Reynolds is President and CEO of NISRE Inc.  She is a current Candidate for Franklin County Commissioner.

Published in OhioMBE – Sept. 1, 2018 – pdf