Weeks after voting to expand the Ohio Housing Trust Fund, Senate President Larry Obhof joined COHHIO staff and local officials at an event at the Menwa Apartments in Wadsworth to discuss housing insecurity in Ohio.

Rep. Steve Hambley (R-Brunswick) and Rep. Darrell Kick (R-Loudonville) also took part in the roundtable discussion hosted by Skip Sipos, executive director of the Medina Metropolitan Housing Authority, which manages the Menwa Apartments, an affordable housing development for seniors.

Sipos said a $690,000 grant from the Ohio Housing Trust Fund helped fund a major renovation of the Menwa Apartments in 2016 that preserved 70 units of affordable housing in the area through a partnership with CHN Housing Partners.

Sen. Obhof (R-Medina) said the OHTF increase was one of several investments the legislature included in the budget to strengthen vulnerable Ohioans, including increased funding for children’s services and early childhood education.

The OHTF increase made sense given the fact that 16 years have passed without any change to the recorder fees that generate its revenue. “They’ve taken a hit in recent years,” he said during the event, noting that inflation over the years has significantly reduced the Housing Trust Fund’s purchasing power.

COHHIO Executive Director Bill Faith said the OHTF amendment in state budget will generate roughly $3 million more for local homeless and affordable housing agencies each year moving forward.

Faith also thanked legislators for agreeing to Gov. DeWine’s request for an additional $5 million appropriation for the Ohio Department of Health to address homelessness among youth and pregnant women.

“These are two very positive, concrete steps to begin reversing the increase in homelessness and expanding the supply of affordable housing in Ohio,” Faith said, noting that young children are the fastest growing part of the 70,000 people in the state’s homeless system.

Tackling housing insecurity will also position Ohio to better address rising health care costs, infant mortality, child welfare, education and other issues, Faith said. “We look forward to working with the governor and legislative leaders to build on this progress in the future.”

Bethany Dentler, executive director of the Medina County Economic Development Corporation, told the legislators that affordable housing was essential for fostering a healthy economy in Medina County.

The Menwa Apartments roundtable was one of many events COHHIO helps coordinate with local agencies and elected officials to highlight effective solutions to homelessness and housing insecurity. If you are interested in hosting an event at your agency, please contact COHHIO Advocacy Director Gina Wilt.

More information: Medina Gazette, Roundtable Tackles Homelessness, Aug. 2, 2019