COLUMBUS, Ohio - More than 300 Ohio groups and businesses are voicing opposition to a state budget amendment that would change how affordable housing properties are valued.
The measure, which was passed in the Senate version of the budget, calls for federally subsidized housing units to be appraised based on market value, without considering rent caps and occupancy restrictions.
Hal Keller, policy advisor with the Ohio Housing Council, explained that affordable housing developments tend to generate less income than market-rate housing.
"The impact would be to essentially double property taxes, which would push a lot of those properties that already have limited cash flow into financial distress," said Keller. "This might lead to deferred maintenance or eventually, default and foreclosure. "
Keller estimated more than 200,000 affordable housing units and 37 properties would be affected, both in rural and urban Ohio. Senate President Matt Huffman - R-Lima - has said the amendment would ensure property owners who are profiting from affordable housing projects pay their fair share of taxes.
The Senate's last-minute amendment came as a surprise to Keller and others. He added that significant strides were made on a similar proposal in 2019 to ensure that federally subsided housing could remain viable.
"This was introduced two years ago, and we were working toward a solution," said Keller. "And unfortunately, this last-minute addition to the budget bill undercuts the collaborative approach between the County Auditor's Association and the affordable housing community."
He said at a time when many Ohioans still struggle financially as a result of the pandemic, the measure would hurt efforts to end homelessness and expand affordable housing options. He estimated that one in three of the affected properties could face extreme financial distress.