Research Reports for Community Benefit

Equitable Housing in Central Ohio:

Redefining Affordability for All

With a projected growth of one million more residents in Central Ohio by 2050, affordable housing is a hot topic. In an effort to ensure an equity and gender lens to the affordable housing issue in Central Ohio, Measurement Resources synthesized its research conducted for several of Central Ohio’s nonprofit organizations to ensure the realities and voices of this region’s residents most impacted by the lack of affordable housing are brought to light. What follows are a few highlights from this study; the full report is available for download.

What is affordable housing?

Typically, affordable housing refers to a family spending less than 30% of their post-tax income on housing. The Department of Housing and Urban Development indicates that families paying more than 30% are considered “cost burdened, and may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation, and medical care.” Therefore, each family, depending on their income, has a different level of affordable rent or mortgage.

How Significant is the Affordable Housing Problem?

In order to afford average rental and mortgage expenses, households need to earn at least $34,074 and $48,063 a year, respectively. Throughout Central Ohio, approximately 213,000 households, or 30% of all households are estimated to be in need of affordable housing, as their annual income is less than this threshold.

Which Communities Demonstrate the Greatest Need for More Affordable Housing?

Residents’ ZIP codes predict whether a resident is more or less likely to be housing cost burdened, and correlate to the income required to have access to affordable housing. As the ZIP codes approach downtown Columbus, the percentages of households that are cost burdened climb to as high as 69%. Renters that live in the suburbs have to earn more annually than those in central Columbus to access affordable housing.
Currently, individuals living in ZIP codes with high rates of housing cost burdened households and relatively low annual incomes have relatively fewer relocation options in terms of accessing housing throughout Central Ohio that is more affordable, which presents challenges in creating mixed-income neighborhoods.

Which Residents are Impacted Most by the Lack of Affordable Housing?

Stark inequities to obtaining affordable housing in Central Ohio exists for Black/African American populations. ZIP codes with high rates of housing cost burden are also the ZIP codes with the high rates of Black/African American populations. These data indicate that neighborhoods in Central Ohio are segregated based on race, with areas with high minority populations experiencing disproportionately high rates of cost burden when compared to predominately White neighborhoods. Predominately White neighborhoods have access to greater opportunities, such as higher-ranked schools.
Women and children are more likely to be impacted by the lack of access to affordable housing than any other group, especially single mothers living in predominately Black/African American neighborhoods. This is likely a result of a myriad of issues, one being that women are more likely to be taking on caregiving roles of both children and elderly individuals.


As the region works to support mixed-income neighborhoods and provide affordable housing opportunities, it is critical for housing policy and affordable housing plans to consider an equity and gender lens to ensure old patterns of discrimination and lack of access are not perpetuated. Whether working to provide families in low-opportunity neighborhoods access to housing in high-opportunity areas, or revitalizing low-opportunity neighborhoods, focus must be placed on the comprehensive needs of families (e.g., access to quality education and social supports), as well as preserving the history of the neighborhoods and their cultural significance. Additionally, addressing barriers to obtaining stable work for low-income populations, such as job training, flexible work options and caregiving support for single-parent households are paramount for these families to access housing throughout the region. Of course, considerations must also be made to providing housing that is within the affordable range for families earning less than $35,000 a year.
While rapid population growth is on the horizon for Central Ohio, policies and practices must address these barriers so that every central Ohioan can afford the basic living expenses that come with safe, affordable housing. It is the American dream to create a better life for the next generation; yet how Central Ohio addresses this issue can impact the next generation and the prosperity of all our residents significantly. 

By the Numbers

In Central Ohio:

  • Renters are twice as likely to be cost burdened compared to homeowners.
  • Households need to earn approximately $35,000 to afford rent; 196,795 of rental households made less than this amount.
  • Rates of housing cost burden increase significantly as rates of single mothers living in a ZIP code increase.
  • Rates of housing cost burden increase significantly as rates of Black individuals living in a ZIP code increase.

Join the Measurement Resources team for an in-depth exploration of the data surrounding the topic of affordable housing in Central Ohio. This community event, sponsored by Human Service Chamber, will include a welcome by Michael Corey, executive director of Human Service Chamber, followed by Sheri Chaney Jones, president, Measurement Resources Company, who will present the team’s findings, and facilitate a conversation with participants. 

The event will take place on Thursday, October 31, from 1:00 to 2:00 pm, in the auditorium at the Columbus Metropolitan Library – Main Branch. While this event is free and open to all, registration is required.