Builder & Developers Council to Cover Timely Issues
The January meeting of the BIA’s Builder & Developers Council will take place on Wednesday, January 9th from 3:30-5pm in Suite 570 of 445 Hutchinson Ave (BIA HQ).
Among the Topics Covered:
BIA Op-Ed Runs in Columbus Dispatch
The following Commentary ran in the Columbus Dispatch on December 24th.
Few new homes are coming onto the market in central Ohio, as homebuilders and homebuyers know all too well.
This deficit is driving up the costs to buy and rent and, as the problem worsens, the entire region is at risk of losing our reputation as an affordable and appealing place to live.
For about the past 25 years, we were successfully building to meet demand, as determined by the number of jobs being created. But that demand is exploding and, to accommodate an estimated 500,000 new jobs and 1 million new residents by 2050, the region must add more than 14,000 housing units per year.
Our current shortfall? About 6,000 housing units a year, according to a new study conducted by Vogt Strategic Insights, with support from the Building Industry Association of Central Ohio, BIA Foundation, Columbus REALTORS and Columbus 2020.
The extent to which we’re underbuilding is troubling.
As Executive Director of the BIA of Central Ohio, I can confidently say the solution is not as simple as just putting more shovels in the dirt to build more homes. Our members wish it were.
The impediments are numerous—the rising costs of labor, lending, lots and lumber (among other materials)—and many of them are being felt across the country. The BIA of Central Ohio, and the industry as a whole is working to train people in the skilled trades, and we’re always innovating in the ways we can build more efficiently.
But what’s unique to central Ohio is how local regulatory barriers are making it nearly impossible to produce the level of housing needed to meet demand, especially for the middle market of approximately $250,000 homes.
These cumbersome regulations are pervasive and are giving central Ohio a reputation as an exclusionary market. They threaten the very growth that is projected for our region over the coming decades.
Addressing this issue requires the attention of all stakeholders, from elected officials overseeing development to “Not In My Backyard” neighbors and the region’s businesses that desperately need housing options for their workers.
The competitiveness of our region is at stake. Perhaps most alarming from the new Housing Need Assessment report is the way central Ohio lags the peer markets of Austin, Charlotte, and Nashville, which are building rapidly—an average of 18,833 (Austin), 15,602 (Charlotte) and 13,189 (Nashville)—to meet their jobs and population demands.
These communities are embracing density, recognizing it drives down costs and meets the need of changing consumer preferences. Central Ohio’s NIMBY neighbors and protectionist policymakers must acknowledge that density doesn’t mean sacrificing quality.
What’s more, we have a tax structure that leads communities to prioritize commercial activity over residential building. And Ohio’s inability to remedy school funding issues is leading communities to turn away new developments because they “can’t afford any more students.” At the same time, these communities have had to increase fees on builders and developers to make up for a reduction in payments from the state’s local government fund.
To top it all off, construction and design guidelines are being put in place with little or no value to the homebuyer, only serving to drive up the cost of homes beyond what the market can bear. There is a thin line between local officials protecting the character of a community and projecting their own personal preferences upon builders and modern design trends. Crossing the line effectively places a moratorium on new home construction.
In central Ohio, we’re already feeling the effects of the housing crunch, and it’s only getting worse. It is vital to the future of our region that policymakers, community leaders and the building community work together to improve the policies that are fueling this challenge.
One recent comment from Bob Schottenstein, Chairman, President, and CEO of M/I Homes, was particularly noteworthy in conveying the larger stakes of the issue. Mr. Schottenstein noted that Columbus 2020, where he serves as a board member, will struggle to continue to attract businesses if we don’t have affordably priced housing to support all residents.
Some municipalities are already addressing affordability. Minneapolis’ city council, for instance, voted this month to entirely do away with single-family zoning, allowing any residential structure to have up to three dwelling units. While this may not be the perfect solution for all cities, it’s encouraging to see action being taken.
Let’s embrace the “Columbus way” and collaborate to make sure the region continues to be known as a great place to live.
Building Industry Association of Central Ohio
Odds & Ends