Voinovich School conducts research for quality affordable housing in Appalachian Ohio

Mollie Fitzgerald
December 8, 2012

On Monday November 26, the Voinovich School presented research findings from the Appalachian Housing Initiative to participants in the 2012 Ohio Housing Conference. The Appalachian Housing Initiative was funded by a grant given to the Ohio CDC Association from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) and the Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA). The purpose of the initiative is to develop grounded strategies for increasing the availability of quality affordable housing in Appalachian Ohio. In addition to the research conducted by the Voinovich School, the Appalachian Housing Initiative includes a market study conducted by Vogt Santers Insight and a financial case analysis performed by Bob Snow and Associates.

As part of the research, Voinovich School staff consulted with non-profit developers, commercial developers, funders, housing intermediaries and other housing experts. The goal was to identify the barriers to developing quality affordable housing in the region and to have stakeholders develop strategies to overcome these barriers. Among the identified barriers were: scarcity of development funding; the inadequate extension of sewer and water systems through the region; and the need for capacity building among non-profit developers and local governments. After the presentation of research findings, participants in the conference session engaged in a series of roundtable discussions designed to formulate strategies for overcoming these and other barriers. One strategy housing experts are particularly interested in is a consortium of Appalachian affordable housing stakeholders. A consortium could promote resource sharing and facilitate the creation of partnerships among non-profits, allowing organizations to divide application tasks and other resource burdens.

Kelli Coughlin Schoen, a research associate at the Voinovich School, explains, “Our next step is to work with the Ohio CDC Association to develop a final list of recommendations. These recommendations will be based on extensive stakeholder input and will include short-, medium- and long-term strategies for increasing the availability of quality affordable housing in Appalachian Ohio.” These recommendations will be included in a report presented to OHFA and DSA.

The research conducted by the Ohio CDC Association and the Voinovich School for the Appalachian Housing Initiative acts as a useful tool for increasing information available to funders and developers about affordable housing development in the region. The goal of these efforts is to build effective strategies to increase quality affordable housing in Appalachian Ohio.