Director's Message

  • Executive Director Sean Thomas

As we begin 2018, I would first like to thank all of our partners and the entire affordable housing industry for your efforts to preserve the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and private activity bonds (PABs) during the past two months. Thanks to your diligent work, the final tax reform bill preserved both the LIHTC and PABs. As we move on to other matters, we must continue to highlight the strengths of these programs so we can maintain the support from our members of Congress and the general public.

This year could bring upcoming bills regarding fixes to the tax reform legislation, infrastructure, housing finance reform and the possible re-introduction of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, which includes a 50 percent increase in the LIHTC allocation for each state. As Congress begins to work on these issues, we must improve the messaging used to promote affordable housing and these programs. We have a good story to tell, a story that demonstrates how affordable housing positively impacts the lives of citizens and the communities where they reside.

At the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, we look forward to another busy year. The Office of Planning, Preservation and Development is working to implement the new Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) as new applications are due on February 15. From our partners e expect to receive an innovative and diverse pool of proposals for developments across Ohio. In addition to the new QAP, we continue the efforts to allocate our 811 Project Rental Assistance Program funding, which provides rental assistance for extremely low-income individuals with disabilities. The first project to receive a formal 811 rental assistance contract, Kensington Square Apartments, was approved by HUD in late December. Finally, the Office of Program Compliance plans to over 350 properties in 2018, ensuring that our residents continue to enjoy high-quality affordable housing.

The Office of Homeownership helped over 3,800 Ohioans become homeowners last year and anticipates helping even more homebuyers in the upcoming year. Fifteen new mortgage lenders also joined OHFA's list of participating lending partners, bringing the total to 115 lenders. In addition to helping new homeowners, OHFA continues to help residents avoid foreclosure and fight blight in their neighborhoods through Save the Dream Ohio. Through the Neighborhood Initiative Program, OHFA has surpassed $100 million in funding to remove blighted and vacant structures in communities throughout the state.

In December, OHFA joined the fight to reduce infant mortality rates through increasing affordable housing opportunities. OHFA awarded nearly $1 million to CelebrateOne to implement a comprehensive pilot program that will provide housing assistance, social services, medical care and more to families at risk of infant mortality. A final report evaluating the results of OHFA's investment will be submitted to the Ohio Commission on Infant Mortality in order to develop further statewide policies and programs.

Finally, I am proud to announce that OHFA will be coordinating, in collaboration with the Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing, a 5K run/walk on April 7. The Race for a Place (to Call Home) 5K will promote the importance of affordable housing and raise funding for a local housing charity. This year, the race will benefit the Community Shelter Board. Registration for the race will be available soon. I hope to see many of you there as we support a good cause, along with improving individual health and wellness.

With that, I wish everyone a happy and successful new year, and I am excited to help more Ohioans find a place to call home in 2018.

Sean Thomas
Executive Director
Ohio Housing Finance Agency