COLUMBUS, Ohio — Cincinnati and Columbus are both among the top 25 cities in the Midwest in terms of rental activity.
According to the Coalition of Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, the average renter in the state needs to earn about $19 dollars per hour in order to afford a 2-bedroom apartment.
The numbers are even bigger when you look specifically at Ohio's three biggest metro areas.
People in Columbus need to make more than $22 an hour. In Cincinnati the threshold is $21 an hour and Cleveland is just over $19 an hour, but rent prices didn’t just sky rocket out of nowhere.
Amy Riegel with COHHIO said what's being seen in the rental market is directly connected to what is happening in the housing market.
“As we see interest rates rising, as we see prices for home ownership rising, the individuals who would normally go into that homeowner market are still renting,” said Riegel. “When you have more people renting, more people coming into a community, there's just a greater demand than there is supply.”
According to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, over one million Ohioans are spending 50% or more of their income on housing. Riegel said that the rise in rent has had a direct effect on the amount of people experiencing homelessness.
Before the pandemic, shelters could help someone find housing within weeks, but that’s no longer the case.
“If a person does end up in the homeless shelter or if they are unsheltered, then it is a long path for them to find a housing unit because of the scarcity that we're seeing in affordable rental units in our communities,” said Riegel.
While Ohio's cities offer housing vouchers and rent assistance resources, Riegel says building more units is the first step to addressing the problem.
“Our goal would not be to see the prices go back down, but just to see them evened out,” said Riegel. “For us to hit a plateau, I think would be a very welcome sign within most communities right now.”
Columbus recently announced that $50 million dollars would be allocated to increase the number of new and rehabbed affordable housing units. Hamilton County is using money from the American Rescue Plan, so affordable housing developers can have access to over $30 million in funding opportunities.
Meanwhile, construction is underway for five affordable housing developments in Cleveland.