WADSWORTH – Medina County needs more affordable housing, according to experts participating in a recent roundtable discussion on housing needs.
Among those in attendance at the recent program held at the Menwa Senior Apartment complex was State Senate President Larry Obhof, who cited a new report on housing needs in his district. That report found that there about 13,500 renter households in the county whose occupants earn an average of $11.41 per hour, well short of the $16 per hour minimum that experts say is needed to support an average family living in a two-bedroom apartment.
The report also indicates there are about 2,300 households in Medina County with extremely low income but only 25 affordable housing units exist for every 100 of those households experiencing extreme poverty.
Experts say housing is by far the most expensive item in the family budget and is becoming out of reach for many Ohioans. The Home Matters of Ohio campaign reports a growing body of research showing housing exerts a significant influence on several public policy issues such as health, education, child welfare and the economy.
Speakers at the Menwa roundtable who discussed some of these issues included Skip Sipos, director of Medina Metropolitan Housing, Bethany Dentler, director of the Medina County Economic Development Corporation, Bill Faith, director of Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio and Hal Keller, president of Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing.
Dentler said a shortage of affordable housing is having a negative impact on manufacturers around the county who are finding it difficult to recruit entry level employees since prospective workers cannot easily find housing they can afford close to their jobs.
Siphos said his agency has been working on a project that should have a direct impact on the issue of housing for manufacturing workers. That is a new 45-unit subsidized housing unit to be built near the industrial area on Seville Road in Wadsworth.
Siphos said creating more affordable housing around the county requires a partnership between public and private entities working together. It’s hoped that raising awareness of the issue will help garner public support for more affordable housing around the county.
Faith applauded Obhof, the state legislature and governor for their recognition of the housing issue and allocating additional funding for homelessness and affordable housing programs in the new state budget enacted last month.
“We appreciate leaders in the Senate and House for including an amendment in the final version of the budget that will generate an estimated $2.5 million a year for the Ohio Housing Trust Fund – the first increase in 16 years,” Faith said.
Siphos said the Ohio Housing Trust Fund is an important source of funding for agencies like his that work to establish affordable housing for all groups in Medina County.
That includes older adults and the Menwa Apartments where the roundtable discussion took place serves as a good example of that work. Siphos said his agency took over management of the 50-year-old housing complex three years ago and was able to invest about $700,000 to install air conditioning and other amenities to make the 70 apartments in the building more attractive to the older residents Menwa was built to serve.