Dwight Dixon’s Home is a three-story, 10-unit apartment building with a flat roof that looks like many others built in Columbus in the 1950s and 1960s.
Dixon, 61, has lived for three years in the North 21st Street apartment building just north of East Broad Street in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville neighborhood of the Near East Side.
Dixon would love to stay. He said he was on a disability and was performing maintenance on the property, including mowing the grass.
But in August, he received a letter from the building’s new managers saying his monthly rent will almost double as of November 1, from $ 500 to $ 950.
The rent for its neighbors will also increase to $ 950 per month.
âThey’re trying to drive everyone out,â Dixon said.
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A downstairs neighbor, Rod Dumas, said his rent would drop from $ 600 to $ 950 per month.
âI’ve lived here for 2.5 years,â said Dumas, 64, who loads trucks at a production company in Agler Road. “I love it. It’s a place I can afford.”
Dixon wonders what will happen to his neighbors. âI like the people in my building,â he said.
Will the vouchers, the grants help residents stay?
The building’s new owner, Brandon Wynn, said he believed the rent increase would be covered by federal rent subsidies under Section 8.
“This notice is to inform you that we are requesting a $ 450 increase in the contractual rent ($ 950) for the property located at 61 N. 21st St.,” the letter reads.
“A copy of the request is also submitted to Department 8 of the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA),” which if it approves the increase, the rent will drop to $ 950 on November 1.
But Dixon and Dumas said they weren’t on Section 8. And ACSM said only four tenants had housing vouchers.
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Wynn said he would get Section 8 tenants who aren’t already approved. But Scott Scharlach, COO of ACSM, said the waiting list for vouchers is now about 15,500 long. And those applying for vouchers now will have to wait until next year to receive them. .
âIt could take a few months or a year or more,â Scharlach said. “It’s a long process.”
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Ownership changes more common and costly across Columbus
What’s happening in the increasingly popular King-Lincoln neighborhood – teeming with new apartment buildings and renovated homes, illustrates what’s happening not only in Columbus, but in Ohio and the rest of the country.
âWe’ve certainly seen examples of investor-owned businesses come in and buy from small landlords and raise rents. The pandemic has accelerated the problem,â said Marcus Roth, director of development for the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio. (COHHIO).
âWe’re not that surprised. People are trying to take advantage of low-income tenants,â Roth said.
Wynn insists that the increased costs will not be passed on to tenants. âThe point is to keep everyone in place,â he said.
“What we’re doing is putting them on section 8.”
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Joe Maskovyak, COHHIO’s Affordable and Fair Housing Coordinator, said his group has received a significant increase in calls for rent increases from people across the state – not just Columbus – often because of new owners and management.
âIt’s tragedy. If you can’t pay, you have to go,â Maskovyak said. And since the rental market is really tight, it is often difficult to find new accommodation, he said.
Carlie Boos, executive director of the Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio, said it was a constant concern.
âWe know this is happening. Our affordable housing providers are losing ground battles to market rate buyers,â Boos said.
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Need affordable housing in Columbus
Bruce Luecke is the President and CEO of one of those non-profit builders, Homeport. Luecke said the market rate developers outbid Homeport on the properties.
âOrganizations like ours, in many cases, cannot compete,â he said. âSome are cash offers.
“We don’t have the same reservations about doing it.”
Luecke said he and others have called on the city of Columbus and Franklin County to use federal dollars from the US bailout to create or preserve affordable housing.
Mike Stevens, director of development for Columbus, said city staff were discussing how to use the money for affordable housing.
âWe’re hearing more and more about these deals, the arrival of new landlords and changing rents,â Stevens said.
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And that lowers the affordability of housing, he said.
âIt’s not uncommon. Supply and demand; we continue to grow. We have not been able to meet the demand for housing,â Stevens said.
Erin Prosser, new Deputy Director of Housing Strategies for Columbus, said: âThe decisions we make over the next several years on housing will determine how prosperous we are as a community and how that prosperity is shared.
The Changing Face of the Near East Side
The sale price of the North 21st Street apartment building and the vacant house next door illustrates the continued popularity of Near East Side properties and the demand for housing there.
Mark Izzard of Plain City bought the building and house next door in 2013 for $ 240,000. He sold them in August for $ 710,000 to Wynn QOZB LLC, a limited liability company formed in July. Izzard said the company is based in Colorado.
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Evernest, a Columbus company, now manages the building. Calls left with Evernest were not returned. Evernest sent the letter to the tenants regarding the rent increases.
Like Dixon, Dumas believes the new owners are trying to force the residents into it.
âThis is not my first rodeo,â he said. Dumas was paying $ 595 a month for an apartment on Woodland Avenue. But when the owners raised it to $ 750 a month, it had to move out. âI couldn’t afford it,â he said.
Halee Hull is another neighbor of DIxon and Dumas. She is from the Mansfield area and has a lease until March. She works in a fast food restaurant and has three children. She is also worried about her neighbors
âPeople have lived in this building for 30 years. They are older, âHull said.
Blow up the rent to $ 950 a month? “It’s a big step forward,” she said.
âIt’s a lot of money, even in this neighborhood,â she said.
“If they do that, I might have to skate.”
Boos said tenants in the building may be eligible for emergency rent assistance from IMPACT Community Action.
âWe don’t need people to become homeless during a pandemic,â Boos said.