Columbus, OH, Teeters, Then Topples: Housing For The Poorest . . . Or Federal Funding?

poor people campaign march in Columbus Ohio
IMG_7414 photo by Becker1999 is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Poor People Campaign march in Columbus Ohio. What would they say about the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority's housing program?

That there is a ‘need’ for housing across the American nation is largely self-evident. Housing developers would be heading out of business otherwise, and the largest of them at least are still building homes. As for groups with a ‘need’ for housing, that would seem to cover everyone, with even the richest 1% probably ‘needing’ housing in their own perverse way.

But a housing affordability crisis? ‘Affordability’ has been redefined in so many ways that any difference between ‘need’ and ‘affordability’ has become irredeemably (and also very conveniently) blurred, to the point that some conservative commentators doubt that a national housing crisis even exists.

But the left and the right agree one thing. There is not enough housing to support America’s lowest income citizens. When it comes those with no income, inadequate pensions, or working overtime at minimum wage, many communities are suffering from this particular kind of affordability crisis.

So what are we to make of a recent upbeat article detailing Columbus, Ohio’s forward looking, ambitious plans to rescue the city from housing misery?


In between tooting its own horn for its full steam ahead attack on the ‘affordable’ housing crisis, the city is prepared to admit that it is in the process of dismantling whatever has been existing as direct support for those facing a truly affordable housing crisis.

Columbus, along with American cities everywhere, has a housing authority that survives only by doing it the way the federal government defines a housing crisis, which coincidentally is the only way the federal government will provide funding.

Some of that funding goes directly into developer and housing finance pockets.

Some of it goes to help quell the need from various slices of redefined affordability-worthy citizens in the middle class. And finally, marching though the pearly gates of new affordable housing, for every hundred or so free market purchasers, a small handful or two of those truly in crisis.

As for the rest of those facing a true housing crisis, well, Columbus is at least honest that they’re in the process of dismantling whatever part of the crumbling support system that still exists. And honest again to admit that the section 8 voucher system to help the poorest rent housing is totally inadequate.

So, having signed on to the federal way of thinking and having accepted federal funding, what plans does Columbus have for all those left behind?

Find it if you can beyond the razzmatazz of Tomorrow’s Columbus Affordable Good Times in NEXT CITY: Columbus Housing Authority Plans a Year of Big Acquisitions