The neighborhood meeting focuses on immigration and affordable housing
Shannon Meadows, Springfield’s community development director, engaged in a candid dialogue with members of the West End Neighborhood Association at a recent meeting, focusing much on topics that have also taken center stage at recent Springfield City Commission meetings: immigration and immigrants. Affordable housing.
Meadows confirmed concerns that skyrocketing rents are pushing some people out of their homes in the community. But she said a combination of factors is contributing to the situation.
“Being able to find a rental property for less than $1,500 a month is almost impossible now, but not because of immigration,” she said.
“Part of that is because Ohio is the new ‘Silicon Valley’ with Intel building here,” Meadows said. “Because of the high real estate values in Columbus, people are coming here after selling their home in Columbus and waiting for their new home to be built.”
Intel is investing more than $20 billion to build two advanced semiconductor chip facilities in Liqing County. This investment is expected to create 7,000 jobs during construction and 3,000 jobs for Intel once completed. There is also potential for expansion into chip production and thousands of additional long-term jobs with suppliers and partners.
Meadows also said the city has suffered from a lack of new housing development over many years which has also increased demand.
“It is important that families have access to affordable housing. The city is working with neighborhoods and developers to meet the need.
She cited plans for the Rose Commons apartment complex on the west side as an example.
“We have not seen a new development in the West for decades,” she said. “I’m not willing to work with any developer projects like this. This development is a project of the Hope Foundation and Wooda Cooper. They have a history of working with the city.”
The Buckeye Community Hope Foundation has developed affordable homes for seniors on the former community hospital property, she said. Woda built the Hayden House Senior Living complex in South Wittenberg.
“Their property management and model is working,” Meadows said.
The Rose Commons project will feature 40 apartments, dedicated green space and a family playground. It will be located on the site of the former Clark Junior High School. The family units will offer up to three bedrooms, and children will attend Fulton Elementary School. Current plans call for project development to begin early next spring, and officials expect it to be completed and opened about 13 months later.
Eight of the housing units will be designated as permanent supportive housing and the other units may or may not qualify for rental subsidy depending on whether residents qualify for a Housing Choice Voucher.
“Housing Choice Vouchers are good for neighborhoods because they require background checks on residents and require annual inspections to ensure the property is properly maintained. Both are good for neighbors,” Meadows said.
Asked whether people were coming from outside our area and using local resources like shelters, Meadows was adamant in saying the data did not support that charge.
“People are not being turned away from shelters because of immigrants,” she said. “Haitians in our community are not using local shelters, and suggestions that they are being housed while veterans are being turned away — that is not happening.”
She expected the number of homeless people to decrease as the weather cools.
“As the weather gets colder, the numbers typically decline until around April…The people we see homeless in the winter may have behavioral health issues or addiction concerns that prevent them from qualifying for shelter supports,” Meadows said. “When weather becomes life-threatening, we have emergency weather shelters and partnerships through the Nehemiah Foundation to serve those at risk.”
She also shared her surprise when she discovered that social media may also play a role in the homelessness crisis.
“I couldn’t believe it, but people are posting videos of themselves living in their cars and getting a lot of attention on social media,” she said.