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Opinion: Tax Breaks for Wealthy Developers Hurt Columbus Neighborhoods

Madeline Stocker Madeline Stocker Opinion: Tax Breaks for Wealthy Developers Hurt Columbus NeighborhoodsNew for-sale housing units under construction in Downtown Columbus — Photo by Walker Evans.
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Everyone has the right to live in a safe and affordable home. But as long as the City keeps giving millions away to wealthy developers and forcing our neighborhoods to pick up the tab, more and more Columbus families will be pushed out of neighborhoods where they’ve lived for generations — with nowhere else to go.

The City often talks about finding solutions to Columbus’s affordable housing crisis. But time and time again, they pass policies that fail our most vulnerable neighborhoods, while simultaneously taking millions of dollars away from our public schools.

The City’s latest approach is a recipe for rapid gentrification. The tax incentive policy may create new housing, but it will not provide homes for those who need them most. Under the new policy, “affordable” apartments can cost up to $1,300 a month — and they’ll be available to a single person making up to $52,000.

This “affordable” housing is not available to low-income renters, and will be well out of reach for more than 125,000 households in Columbus.

Instead, even more families will watch their rents and property taxes rise as developers bulldoze their way through the East Side, Milo-Grogan, the Southside and other neighborhoods. Current residents — especially people of color, low-income seniors and people with disabilities — will be pushed out, while new residents are ushered in.

This is not the future we want for Columbus. We don’t need more cookie-cutter condos or tax breaks for the wealthy. We need safe, stable housing that’s affordable for all of us. We need wealthy developers to invest in our public schools, and provide living-wage jobs for working families in all neighborhoods.

In a recent statement on the new policy, Council President Hardin said, “if it’s not for all, then it’s not for us.” If Council is serious about building a Columbus “for all,” they’ll stop pushing working families out of their homes and start treating housing as a basic human right, not as a privilege.


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