We received great news about our efforts on affordable housing recently: The Ohio Housing Finance Agency awarded its Housing Tax Credits, and seven Columbus projects were given the green light.
All told, 517 much-needed affordable housing units will be added. I am excited about all of the projects, and one is especially near and dear to me.
Marsh Brook on the Far East Side will open 40 one- and two-bedroom apartments in a single 3-story building at the corner of Chatterdon and Brice Rd. Through the assistance of Huckleberry House, it will serve as permanent supportive housing for 18- to 24-year-olds, many of whom will be transitioning out of foster care.
I saw firsthand the struggles that foster kids face – my parents fostered a total of 47 children while I was growing up. My mom and dad continued to help my foster brothers and sisters after they had left the system, but many children aren’t that fortunate.
At Marsh Brook, Huckleberry House in collaboration with the Community Housing Network, will provide assistance with the transition from foster care to independent living for these young people, helping them develop the skills and confidence they need to live successfully. Marsh Brook will consist of safe, furnished apartments and on-site supportive services to help the youth work on employment and education goals. Ultimately, the program helps youth learn to live successfully and happily on their own.
I took a site visit to Marsh Brook recently. Ryan Cassell from Community Housing Network showed me the plans for the development, and Lynda Leclerc and Paul Davis from Huckleberry House talked me through some of their needs and challenges. The building is set in quiet, green surroundings, with nearby COTA stops and grocery stores. Lynda said that the youth they’ve surveyed particularly wanted the green space around them because it seemed peaceful – a big change from what most of them had experienced so far in their young lives.
Ryan told me Community Housing Network will break ground later this year and should start moving youth in by 2020. It won’t be a problem to fill the 40 units – in fact, there is a need for up to 1,000 youth in similar circumstances throughout the Columbus area.
All of the Ohio Housing Finance Agency projects represent just a fraction of the affordable housing we will need in the coming years in Columbus. But along with programs like the 100 Day Challenge, Rose Fellowship and our new incentives policies, they will continue to move our city in the right direction in mixed-income neighborhoods.
The span of projects will allow seniors to age in place at Wheatland Crossing II, help families find stable housing at Wendler Commons and support our youth as they transition to adulthood at Marsh Brook.
Columbus’ future is big enough and bright enough for everyone in our great community.