Census: Ohio’s major cities shrank, Columbus suburbs grew
CORRECTIONApril 1, 2022, 9:30 p.m.: The first table has been corrected after a data analysis error.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — While there are many reasons people move, affordability is one that faces central Ohio and its booming real estate market.
“I think it’s important to let people know that this is a real problem. It affects those who work and earn decent wages, but still not enough,” said a single mother from Columbus who asked NBC4 not to tag her.
Her $1,395-a-month lease is running out, she said, and she can’t find anything close to that price in the area with enough room for her family of four.
With “low end” prices, including $1,895, $1,950, or even $2,095 a month, she left Columbus and moved to Lima, a “more affordable city with more affordable housing.”
“I work for a nonprofit, so I’m not rich or anything like that,” she said, “but you’d think I could afford a decent house in a decent neighborhood. with decent schools for my children”,
This Columbus mother’s story is not new to Shameikia Smith, vice president of housing programs at IMPACT Community Action, a Columbus nonprofit that works to provide people with stable housing in Franklin County.
“Unfortunately, in our community, people cannot afford to live where they work,” she said, adding that IMPACT’s mission has become more difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In 2019, IMPACT served 250 people,” she said. “And then in 2020 when the pandemic hit, we went from serving 100 people to over 25,000 people.”
A bench search investigation as of January, more than 6 in 10 Americans living in urban areas said the cost of housing was a major issue. Only 4 in 10 rural Americans said the same.
This housing crisis showed up in an NBC4 Investigates analysis of the US Census Bureau’s 2021 population estimates, released this month. Compared to 2020, data shows that the seven Ohio counties that lost the most residents last year each contain one of the largest cities in the state:
|Rank (out of 88)||Ohio County||largest city||Pop. change, ’20-’21|
Doing the math, Franklin County lost 1 in 500 people last year, for example, and Cuyahoga almost lost 1 in 100.
But as people move away from major cities in Ohio, Central Ohio continues to grow. The six counties bordering Franklin were among the top 10 counties in Ohio in terms of population growth last year:
|Rank (out of 88)||Ohio County||Pop. change, ’20-’21|
“In many cases, there has been a shift from larger, more populated counties to medium and smaller counties,” a Census Bureau statement said.
Bruce Weinberg, an economics professor at Ohio State University, says the rising cost of living in Columbus is a result of the community’s prosperity.
“There’s Intel development and so on; It will bring more activity,” he said. “So I think in general it’s probably the case that Columbus is going to become less affordable over time.”
There are ways to alleviate housing problems, Weinberg said, including building more housing or building more public transportation.
“I think that’s going to be a strength…that the city will have to deal with in the long run because it wants to remain a livable place for people,” he said.
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