Ohio's Appalachian region comprises over a third of the state's counties and is home to almost 20 percent of the state's population. This region is marked by persistent poverty, high unemployment and an aging, often substandard housing stock. There is a need for quality affordable housing, but those involved with affordable housing development have long reported that it is difficult to produce and maintain a sufficient supply of quality affordable housing in the region.
The goals of the Appalachian Housing Initiative (AHI) were to uncover the reasons for the lack of quality affordable housing in the region and to generate grounded strategies for overcoming the identified barriers. Through a multi-pronged research effort involving the Ohio CDC Association (OCDCA), Vogt Santer Insights (VSI), Bob Snow & Associates, Ohio University's Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, and the input of non-profit developers, for-profit developers, housing intermediaries and funders, the AHI has produced a list of recommendations for increasing the availability of quality affordable housing in Appalachian Ohio.
Generous funding was provided by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) and the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA).
One component of the AHI is an analysis to provide a comprehensive housing needs assessment that focuses on the current and anticipated affordable housing need in each of the 32 Appalachian counties of Ohio. Vogt Santer Insights (VSI) conducted this detailed assessment and documentation of economic, demographic and housing needs.
VSI created an interactive database from the information collected in the analysis that will assist with housing development and includes details of the existing rental housing properties in each of the 32 Appalachian Ohio counties.
The majority of developers interviewed as part of the Appalachian Set Aside Review research project identified development costs as one of the primary barriers to the development of affordable housing in the Appalachian Ohio region. Bob Snow & Associates completed an analysis to define the current situation, outline funding options, and explore differences between Appalachia, rural non-Appalachia and urban funding options, including rent structure, income restrictions, debt coverage, operating expenses, project sources, development costs (uses), gap debt sources, and the availability of tax credit allocations. One conclusion documents the rent disadvantage facing Ohio's Appalachian region.
In 2009, the Ohio University's Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs prepared for the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) a review to explore the barriers to quality, affordable housing development.
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