Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) announces plan to issue $30M in general revenue bonds that will support creation of at least 500 new affordable housing units annually through 2025
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Decision marks first time in CMHA’s 87-year history it’s issuing revenue bonds as part of long-term financing strategy; new funding will build on momentum from record-setting 2020 accomplishments
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Columbus, OH, March 30, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) announced today it is issuing $30 million in general revenue bonds this year as part of a plan to develop or acquire a minimum of 500 affordable mixed-income units annually in Columbus through 2025.
“Our vision for 2021 and beyond is to help solve the region’s affordable housing crisis by acquiring, developing and constructing more affordable housing than ever before as we continue to build upon our record-setting 2020 accomplishments,” said CMHA President and CEO Charles D. Hillman.
“CMHA’s decision to move forward with our community partners on a $30 million bonding plan will help us bring an exciting new supply of affordable housing opportunities to Franklin County and deliver long-term stability for families in the Columbus area, where affordable housing represents a critical unmet need for the foreseeable future,” Hillman said.
CMHA’s vision to build at least 500 low- and mixed-income units annually through 2025 comes as the supply of affordable housing in Columbus and Franklin County cannot keep up with demand. While most cities in Ohio and the Midwest have been losing population since the 1960s, Columbus’ population has exploded.
From 1960 to 2017, the city’s population nearly doubled from 471,316 to 879,170. Between April 1, 2010 and July 1, 2019 (most recent census data available), Columbus was 13th for largest numeric population increase for cities with more than 50,000 residents – the city gained 109,535 people over the past decade, placing Columbus just below San Diego (121,922) and Denver (127,386). Columbus is the only city in the Midwest in the top 15 for numeric growth. The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission projects the Columbus region is on pace to hit 3 million residents by 2050, 1.2 million more people than were here in 2010.
At the same time, home values in Columbus have increased sharply since 2013, rising by 12.3% over the past year alone, according to Zillow. Realtor.com has ranked Columbus as America’s eighth-hottest housing market in its most recent report based on the number of hits each listing receives and time on the market.
Rising home prices and rents make finding affordable housing for low-wage earners and their children, senior citizens and people with disabilities an increasingly difficult challenge, often forcing them to live in substandard housing where they can suffer health problems, struggle academically and experience financial problems. The Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio (AHACO) estimates 54,000 low- and moderate-income households in Franklin County pay more than half their income towards housing costs.
Central Ohio faces a deficit of 11,000 to 14,000 new housing units every year to support a healthy housing market, which means CMHA’s role in providing affordable housing options to the region’s low- and middle-income residents is more critical than ever, said CMHA CFO Tom Williamson.
Beyond data projections that show the growing need for affordable housing in Franklin County, CMHA’s plan to issue $30 million in revenue bonds this year was spurred by a recent A+ rating the authority received from S&P Global Ratings. It’s the first time CMHA has issued general revenue bonds and the first time CMHA sought a rating from S&P.
S&P is considered the largest of the three major credit rating agencies, which also include Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings. The A+ rating was secured after extensive third-party reviews and reporting from CMHA’s finance team. The CMHA’s $30 million bond plan is the first phase in a long-term strategy that CMHA officials say will become an ongoing series of bonding activities for the agency moving forward.
“Our A+ S&P rating will significantly reduce the Agency’s cost of financing and help us gain access to the bond markets. Those factors, coupled with the financial performance of our investments, helps create a self-sustaining model that will assist us in delivering on our strategic goal of adding to our portfolio a minimum of 500 units of affordable housing per year over each of the next five years,” Williamson said.
CMHA is looking to invest $186 million in 2021 to build or acquire new affordable housing communities and upgrade existing properties in its portfolio. The proposed 2021 investment represents the second-largest total in CMHA’s history after last year’s $200-plus million in investments. The aggressive strategy for meeting affordable housing needs calls for CMHA to acquire apartment buildings in “neighborhoods of opportunity,” with access to Columbus and suburban schools, jobs and transportation.
Up to 50% of the apartments are set aside as workforce housing for families earning at least 80% of area median income, which in 2020 was $47,150 for a single person and $67,350 for a family of four.
“Due to the economic downturn and the global pandemic, many families are experiencing hardships,” said Scott Scharlach, CMHA chief operating officer.
A 2020 report by AHACO that tracked COVID-19 impacts to the local affordable housing market show an “evolving and deepening housing crisis” in the region. Effects were most pronounced in family and workforce housing populations, in which all respondents reported higher nonpayment rates, with 40% of housing providers seeing "much higher" arrears (exceeding 26% of all households). Non-payments are expected to worsen as relief funds and individual savings are depleted.
“These circumstances coupled with the current shortage of affordable housing in our community only increase the need to develop and preserve units as affordable,” Scharlach said. “CMHA housing, combined with needed service supports, prevents families from slipping through the cracks and becoming homeless while preserving affordability.”
The first deal in the 2021 pipeline for CMHA is a $39 million partnership with the NRP Group on construction of the Sinclair Family Apartments, a 180-unit, mixed-income community consisting of one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units near Morse and Sinclair roads.
Since its founding in 1994, NRP has developed more than 43,000 apartment homes, and it currently manages over 23,000 residential units. CMHA plans to offer project-based vouchers on 25% of the Sinclair Family units and a mix of affordability options on the remaining 75% of the apartments.
In addition, CMHA has begun renovations on the 230 affordable housing units at Rosewind Apartments in Columbus. The project is part of a $13.7 million investment in partnership with CVS Health that CMHA announced last year. CVS Health will work with CMHA and the Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing on job training and healthcare services for residents of Rosewind.
Other major CMHA projects slated to begin in 2021 using 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credits include:
- An estimated $35 million renovation of Winchester Lakes Apartments, an existing 150-unit apartment property located in Canal Winchester that will receive extensive interior upgrades, including full HVAC and window replacement. CMHA and Cleveland-based affordable housing developer partner PIRHL will also improve the amenities, landscaping, and other aspects of the site.
- A $41 million project to overhaul Post Oak Station, including significant renovations to of the existing units, build eight new units, and build a new, 11,000 square foot daycare facility on site. All told, this project will bring upgraded housing and high-quality, affordable daycare options to residents of the southwest side of Columbus.
- A $51 million deal to acquire and renovate the Crosswinds Village apartment community. The 232-unit apartment complex, built in 1999 in southwest Columbus, will get extensive renovations to its units, exteriors and community areas, with work to begin this year and continuing through summer 2022. CMHA is completing this project in partnership with PIRHL, an affordable housing developer based in Northeast Ohio.
“I applaud CMHA’s vision for helping our city by reducing the cost burden of housing and increasing access to safe, affordable places to live,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther. “We’re grateful for CMHA’s continued work to serve our neighbors struggling with housing.”
Founded in 1934, CMHA has more than doubled its portfolio of affordable housing over the last five years, including a record-setting $200 million-plus in investment in 2020 that the authority used to acquire or build 1,000 units, the highest totals in the agency’s history. CMHA has been consistently designated a Section Eight Management Assessment Program (SEMAP) high performer for the last 11 years by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
About CMHA: CMHA helps people access affordable housing through collaborative partnerships, promote neighborhood revitalization and assist residents in accessing needed social services. CMHA has more than doubled its portfolio of housing over that last five years, including over $200 million in investment in 2020. We own over 4,000 units of affordable housing and through our Housing Choice Voucher and Project Based Rental Assistance Programs provide rental assistance to more than 250,000 Ohio and Washington DC residents. Half of the authority's apartments are set aside as workforce housing for families earning 80% of the area median income.
Mike Nowlin Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) 989-450-0855 email@example.comSource: Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA)
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