On Tuesday, the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) released its annual Housing Needs Assessment, which serves as a statewide resource on housing and related topics in Ohio.

This report, compiled by OHFA’s Office of Housing Policy, examined various topics from the quality of Ohio’s housing to issues affecting children, veterans and more, and is updated every year to provide the most accurate data on housing in Ohio.

When a household spends over 30 percent of their income on rent and utilities, it is considered cost burdened, and 47 percent of Ohio’s renter households fall into this category. Twenty-five percent of renter households in Ohio are severely cost burdened, meaning they spend over 50 percent of their income on housing expenses. Only 42 out of every 100 rental units are affordable to extremely low-income Ohioans who rent.

Transportation costs can make housing even more unaffordable. The typical Ohioan spends 53 percent of their income on transportation plus housing costs, which is well over the recommended 45 percent. For moderate-income Ohioans, which are those who make 80 percent of the area median income, this percentage jumps to 62 percent.

These high housing and transportation costs are partly due to the fact that finding affordable housing is becoming more difficult for Ohioans. One in five housing units were built before 1940, and 6.9 percent of renter-occupied units are considered inadequate, mostly due to upkeep issues such as water leaks, holes, rat infestation and more. In addition, over 545,000 units in Ohio are vacant, yet only 29 percent of those units are available for sale or rent. Owner and rental vacancy are both near their lowest levels on record, suggesting that Ohioans are struggling to find decent available housing.

Furthermore, 63 percent of homes statewide cannot be entered by someone in a wheelchair, which is a growing concern for a state whose population is aging. By 2040, 24 percent of Ohioans will be aged 65 or older.

High housing costs and inadequate housing can lead to housing instability and homelessness. A recent report shows that, in 2016 alone, over 58,000 clients in Ohio accessed emergency shelters and other housing services for people experiencing homelessness. This number is seven times more than previously reported figures for the number of homeless Ohioans.

People of color in Ohio are also largely affected by the housing challenges facing the state. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has identified areas that are racially/ethnically concentrated areas of poverty (R/ECAPS). Most residents in these areas are people of color, and the poverty rate of these areas is 40 percent or higher. Nineteen percent of Blacks and nine percent of Hispanics live in these areas, compared to only one percent of Ohio’s White residents. These racial disparities in housing also affect the ability to own a home. While 72 percent of White householders are homeowners, only 36 percent of Black householders and 44 percent of Hispanic householders are homeowners.

A new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows these housing challenges are pervasive across the state, and Ohioans are struggling to overcome them. Only two of the 10 most common jobs in Ohio pay employees enough money to afford a basic two-bedroom apartment. A worker earning minimum wage would have to work 57 hours a week to afford a modest, one-bedroom apartment. As the state’s leader in affordable housing, OHFA continues to provide opportunities for Ohioans to find housing through its development and homeownership programs.

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