Seniors struggling to find affordable housing
The booming housing market in Columbus has made a bad situation worse for many seniors and other people on fixed incomes. Government officials and local companies have joined together to fix up older buildings and keep the rents low enough for people to afford it.
Many people who have lived in the same neighborhood for decades have been priced out of their homes.
"I'm real familiar. I know every crack in the sidewalk," said Linda Bettac who has lived near the Ohio State University campus most of her life. "A lot of people told me that, 'you can't even find a place there that you can afford' and I said, 'I'm just going to look around and if I can't, I can't. I want to be a place I'm familiar with.'"
Bettac lives off her Social Security payments. She was able to find a subsidized apartment she could afford on High Street. City, state and federal government leaders joined several local companies cutting the ribbon on Bettac's apartment building after it was recently renovated top to bottom.
The seniors who live in that building said it's often difficult to find affordable apartments like that.
"They're filled up," said Joey Lascola who has lived in the building for eight years. "It's hard for a senior citizen to find a place affordable on a fixed income."
That's a problem in both the city and the suburbs according to E.J. Thomas, the head of the Affordable Housing Alliance. The AHA is a collection of non-profit groups working together to provide more affordable housing. Thomas said the average price of a two-bedroom apartment has risen to more than $850 a month in Central Ohio. He said the region needs about 54,000 more affordable units to keep up with demand.
"You've got the Boomers that are aging that have been in their house 25, 30 years, paid it off a long time ago. It needs repairs. They can't afford them nor are they physically able to do them themselves," Thomas said. "You get an awful lot of folks here in Central Ohio who are finding that affordable housing is just kind of going out of reach for them."
The housing non-profit Homeport unveiled three buildings in the Dennison Place and Weinland Park neighborhoods which were recently renovated. Those buildings added a total of 59 affordable units. It cost more than $10 million in both private and public money to renovate them.