FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Media Contact: Molly Moses
OHFA Announces New Fund Aimed at Creating Diverse, Mixed-Income Communities
COLUMBUS - The Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) has launched a new initiative to create mixed-income, diverse and accessible communities in Ohio's largest cities. The Fair Housing Act 50 Building Opportunity Fund (FHAct50) empowers Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus to distribute $3 million in housing tax credits in a single neighborhood where market trends indicate that affordable housing is most at-risk. This investment is expected to generate approximately $30 million in equity for each city.
Named in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, the FHAct50 Fund is designed to build mixed-income communities from the ground-up. Each affordable housing unit created must be matched by a market-rate housing unit produced at the same time and within the same neighborhood. All three eligible cities voluntarily opted into this program prior to the September 28, 2018, deadline, and will have access to draw down credits in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Participating cities will collaborate with their citizens to select one neighborhood that is ripe for market-rate housing investments and broader economic growth. Cities and residents will work together to create a plan for this target area that strategizes long-term development goals, such as improving schools or expanding job opportunities. The city will then recruit community partners to help execute this plan. After laying this groundwork, the city is authorized to competitively and transparently select affordable housing developments that support the plan to receive tax credits. This local competition replaces OHFA's traditional competitive requirements and allows investments to be more tailored and responsive to local needs than ever before.
"Diverse and inclusive neighborhoods make sense every way you shake it. It makes our communities stronger, our people more economically mobile and our investments more financially sound," said Carlie J. Boos, Program and Policy Manager at OHFA. "By vesting our local partners with the power to rapidly respond to emerging housing trends, OHFA is confident that we can both promote affordability and contribute to a flourishing community renaissance."
OHFA understands that cities will need support in this process, particularly in fostering an authentic community engagement process in a relatively short time period. To assist, OHFA is retaining an expert planning consultant to help cities facilitate a dialogue with its residents and craft a plan that meets their objectives. This organization can also help the neighborhood appoint a committee to oversee the plan's implementation and ensure it remains responsive to residents.
Resources for FHAct50 were made available due to a temporary 12.5 percent increase in the amount of credits available, included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018.
According to a recent study from the City Observatory, the U.S. currently only has 1,300 neighborhoods which qualify as diverse and mixed-income. Only seven million people – about two percent of the country's population – live within these communities. Mixed-income communities can improve the economic mobility of residents and improve their access to opportunities.