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Report: Some Ohioans Can Barely Afford Place to Call Home

PHOTO: A new report finds Ohioans with low income levels are struggling to find affordable rental housing, with more than 70 percent of extremely low-income renters spending more than half of their pay on rent and utility costs. Photo credit: Gracey Stinson/Morguefile.
PHOTO: A new report finds Ohioans with low income levels are struggling to find affordable rental housing, with more than 70 percent of extremely low-income renters spending more than half of their pay on rent and utility costs. Photo credit: Gracey Stinson/Morguefile.
March 12, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio - New data from The Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio finds many low-income Ohioans don't have much to live on after writing a check to their landlord.

The report found more than 70 percent of extremely low-income renters in the state spend more than half their pay on rent and utility costs. The coalition's Suzanne Gravette Acker says the problem stems from the 2008 mortgage meltdown.

"People stopped owning homes because money was much more difficult to borrow," she says. "People started renting, and since then rental rates have gone through the roof and people are being shut out of the market."

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Ohio is $720. To afford it without paying more than 30 percent of income on housing, a household must earn $2,400 per month.

Extremely low-income households have incomes at or below 30 percent of the community average. In Franklin County, it's $21,000 annually for a family of four. To close the affordable-renting gap in Ohio, Acker says there is a need for more than 270,000 additional rental homes.

"These are people that sometimes are working one and two, maybe three jobs," she says. "They're typically low-wage earners, so when they cobble their funds together and put 70 percent of it toward rent, they have very little left for other necessities."

Acker says there are some positive developments which should help in the future, including funding to expand the supply of low-income housing, which began to be set aside for the National Housing Trust Fund in December.

"Money will start flowing into the National Housing Trust Fund in 2016, and we can augment the affordable housing funds in the Ohio Housing Trust fund with the national trust fund dollars," she says.

In addition, a recent federal Housing and Urban Development grant will expand affordable housing for extremely low-income populations, and for residents with disabilities.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH