Several influential statewide business groups recently called on State leaders to invest a portion of Ohio’s American Rescue Plan Act funds in affordable housing after the U.S. Department of Treasury issued revised guidelines simplifying the use of ARPA for affordable housing development.

The Ohio Housing Council, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Ohio REALTORS, the Ohio Bankers’ League, and the Ohio Apartment Association urge Gov. DeWine and legislative leaders to act quickly on COHHIO’s proposal to use $308 million in ARPA funds to address the affordable housing crisis. (Download letter)

“Home values and the cost of rent have increased at near record levels over the past two years, disproportionately impacting low-income Ohioans and people with disabilities. Fortunately, State Fiscal Recovery Funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provide our State an unprecedented opportunity to dramatically increase the supply of housing that is affordable to the most vulnerable Ohioans,” the letter says.

“We urge you to take action immediately on housing development components of the proposal because time is running out.

Affordable and supportive housing development deals involve many complex funding sources and partners and often require years to close. The current state and federal tools available for affordable housing production are effective, but are not sufficient to respond to dramatically increased demand.

ARPA funds are required to be fully obligated by September 30, 2025. If the State intends to strengthen Ohio’s workforce and respond to the growing affordable housing crisis, these funds should be made available by the beginning of 2023 at the latest.”

COHHIO Executive Director Amy Riegel said the letter underscores the connection between economic development and affordable housing.

“These groups recognize that affordable housing is the foundation of a strong, healthy and productive workforce. Businesses need a diversity of workers in order to thrive, and those workers need a range of affordable housing options,”  she said.

“Building the Intel plant will require 7,000 construction workers, and it could be thousands more if Ohio gets Honda’s new battery facility. We need to learn from the fracking boom that dislocated many in Eastern Ohio nearly a decade ago,” she said, noting that rents in Guernsey, Jefferson, and Monroe counties tripled, leaving many long-time residents scrambling for housing.

“Investing ARPA to create affordable housing now can prevent these problems while strengthening Ohio’s workforce, and restraining state and local spending on hospitals, jails, and foster care,” Riegel said. “This is a one-time expenditure of federal dollars to fix a growing, long-term problem that affects all of our communities.”