Central Ohio's appeal brings housing challenges, opportunities
By Jennifer Noll
Published in This Week Community News
For many of us, the character of a community is an important reason why we choose to live or work there. With so many wonderful communities across Greater Columbus, it’s not surprising that more people and businesses are moving to the region every day.
But with housing already in short supply, where will these new residents live? How do we embrace the opportunities that come with new residents and businesses while preserving our community’s authenticity?
At the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, we have asked these questions, too. Through our insight2050 initiative and Regional Housing Strategy, we have learned that central Ohio needs more homes to accommodate our growing population.
And because the region is home to people of all ages, abilities and preferences for where and how we live, we also need more variety in the types and prices of homes. Communities with a more varied housing selection are not only meeting more residents’ needs today; they also are more adaptable as needs and preferences change over time.
Where and how housing is built can go a long way toward addressing these needs. There are many examples of central Ohio communities strengthening their downtowns with new residential opportunities. Supporting growth and development in our “Main Street” areas invests in the core of our communities, ensuring they remain vibrant, creative places to work, play and live.
Other success stories can be found in former aging strip malls, office parks or underutilized parking lots that have been transformed into destinations that incorporate new housing among amenities meant for all residents to enjoy.
When housing is in short supply, we all feel the consequences. Rising prices are just the first signal. Households are forced to travel farther to find a home that meets their needs or budgets. Commute times risk becoming longer, leading to more traffic congestion, crashes and air pollution. Businesses find it more difficult to hire and keep employees.
Just think about the teachers who work at the elementary school your children can walk to or the bakers who ensure you can enjoy delicious cinnamon rolls every morning in the bakery just down your street. If the people at the heart of our favorite places no longer are able to be part of our community, we lose part of what makes our community special.
Housing – where and how it’s built and priced – helps communities preserve the authenticity, park space, farmland or historic charm residents and visitors love. More homes accommodate more ages, abilities and preferences while creating destinations that truly have something for everyone.
With thoughtful planning and decision-making, we can accommodate our region’s growth and preserve more of our communities’ character for the long run.
Learn more about the regional housing strategy and insight2050 initiative at morpc.org.
Jennifer Noll is the associate director of community development for the Planning Department at the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. MORPC’s purpose is to bring communities of all sizes and interests together to collaborate on best practices and plans for the future of the region.