Joe Motil

Joe Motil, former Columbus City Council candidate and longtime community advocate who is strongly considering running for Mayor in 2023, states that, “It is long overdue that Mayor Ginther, Columbus City Council and our Franklin County Board of Commissioners join together and invest $120 million of city and county allocated federal  American Rescue Plan funds towards affordable housing. Along with a matching $60 million investment by The Columbus Partnership and its 84 members, a desperately needed immediate infusion of a $180 million-dollar affordable housing investment can be realized. These funds could provide up to 5,000 affordable housing units for those wage earners at 60 percent AMI ($35,200) and less.”

At tonight’s Columbus City Council meeting, a total of $5.5 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds were voted on and approved for the YWCA, YMCA, Faith Mission, Maryhaven and Southeast Inc. This would leave a balance of about $44.7 million of the city’s current ARP funds along with another $93 million that is to arrive next month totaling $137 million in available funds.

Motil testified before City Council that, “As the lack of truly affordable housing continues to arguably be the number one issue facing our city, not one dime of this city taxpayer federal relief money has gone towards the construction of affordable units. Nine months ago in early July of last year, I sent a letter to Mayor Ginther, President Hardin and Council members Brown, Favor, Dorans and Remy regarding a proposal for the city to allocate $60 million of ARP  funds towards affordable housing that should be designated towards those of 60 percent AMI and less. Also included in the letter was that the county should match the $60 Million from their allocated $255 million ARP funds along with The Columbus Partnership matching the $60 million. This would allow for an immediate infusion of $180 million that could immediately create up to 5,000  affordable housing units. Other suggestions were also included in my letter.”

Motil further remarked that, “The county even gave $3 million to the non-profit that owns the Columbus Clippers and Huntington Park. But not a dime of ARP funds has been spent by either the county or city on bricks and mortar affordable housing units. The city of St. Paul, Minnesota which has nearly half the population of Columbus, displayed its leadership by partnering with its county to combine a total of $74 million of their ARP funds to construct up to 1,000 units for those at 30 percent AMI in St. Paul.

Motil says, “The 2019 $50 million dollar housing bond package is depleted and only 178 new units are going to be built this year from those remaining bond funds. During my 2019 City Council campaign I proposed that a $250 million bond package to be placed on the ballot. If that would have been voted on and approved, thousands of more affordable units could have been built this year. But since another bond package won’t be on the ballot until November, the city has squandered an opportunity to invest in more affordable housing units this year since the 2019 $50 million bond package was so small.”  

In a recent March 31, 2022 joint City Hall Media Advisory, Mayor Ginther stated that, “housing is central to quality of life and upward mobility.” Council President Hardin stated, “Council and the city are continuing to invest in critical human service and housing infrastructure to fight poverty in Columbus.” Councilwoman Favor said, “Access to safe, affordable housing is a leading determinant of income, wealth and overall quality of life.” 

Motil concludes that, “ Talk is cheap. People are suffering and can’t keep waiting. City Council and the county’s  reluctance to allocate ARP funds towards affordable housing is depriving thousands of safe and decent housing that they deserve. It’s past time that they expend no less than $60 million each of our ARP taxpayer funds and to begin discussions with The Columbus Partnership for a $180 million affordable housing investment for Columbus’s most vulnerable."