County pledges $1 million to affordable housing fund

By June 16, 2011April 15th, 2014No Comments

August 1, 2001. The Columbus Dispatch.

Clad in running shoes, about 50 members of an advocacy group packed yesterday’s meeting of the Franklin County commissioners to deliver their message — a plea for more money to house low-income residents.

Building Responsibility, Equality and Dignity, a coalition of church and synagogue members, gave each of the commissioners a pair of running shoes to remind them to “go the distance.” The commissioners voted yesterday to contribute $1 million to the new Columbus/Franklin County AffordableHousing Trust Corp. The city is putting $3.2 million into the trust fund for the construction of more housing for families making less than $31,000 a year.

Though BREAD thanked the commissioners for joining with Columbus to start the fund, the group wants them to boost the county’s contribution by $3 million, to $4 million.

A city-county study recently found that 43,000 low-income households in the county devote more than 50 percent of their financial resources to housing.

Jack Chomsky, who is cantor for Congregation Tifereth Israel and co- president of BREAD, noted that Commissioner Dewey Stokes said at a May 21 meeting with BREAD that “God willing,” the county would raise its commitment.

“As an organization representing over 40 diverse congregations, we feel certain when we tell you that God is willing,” Chomsky said.

“We hope that you will wear your BREAD-provided shoes and that they will remind you of this task and that you will find a way.”

Stokes said the county channeled $34 million last year in direct and indirect ways to address affordablehousing. For example, the commissioners approved millions in housing revenue bonds that developers use to finance the construction or renovation of apartments at a lower interest rate than the open market.

Commissioner Arlene Shoemaker, who has criticized BREAD’s confrontational tactics, complimented the group for its presentation, which she described as “clever.”

In other business, the commissioners agreed to pay $3.7 million to nine construction companies that are working on the first phase of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Training Academy, which is to be off Rt. 665 in Pleasant Township. The project is about $300,000 under its projected $5.6 million cost, said Marianne Barnhart, director of public facilities management.

In December, the county fired Miles McClellan Construction, its construction manager, and hired Turner Construction to take over. The commissioners were dismayed that bids had twice come in higher than estimates.