OHIO STATE ENACTS INCENTIVE PROGRAM TO BOOST HOMEOWNERSHIP
COLUMBUS -- The Ohio State University will stimulate the
market to increase homeownership in the University District by
encouraging its own employees to live in the neighborhoods around
the Columbus campus.
The university's Board of Trustees on Friday (5/1) approved
the Faculty and Staff Neighborhood Homeownership Incentive
Program to offer employees down-payment assistance to purchase
and live in homes in the University District. The program will
begin June 1.
Eligible faculty and staff members may apply for a $3,000
forgivable loan at no interest for down-payment assistance to
purchase a home in the University District. As defined by
Columbus City Code, the boundaries of the University District are
Fifth Avenue on the south, Glen Echo Ravine (just north of
Arcadia Avenue) on the north, the Conrail tracks on the east and
the Olentangy River on the west.
Recipients will be required to sign an agreement with the
university that requires the applicant to live in the house for
at least five years, during which time one-fifth of the loan
amount will be forgiven each year. If recipients move or leave
the university before five years, they will be required to repay
a prorated portion of the loan.
"The program will be a real advantage for people who work at
the university," said David Williams II, vice president for
student and urban/community affairs and chair of the Campus
Partners Board of Trustees. "It will help faculty and staff feel
more connected to the university, and it will help increase
homeownership in the area, serving as a catalyst for positive
The University Neighborhoods Revitalization Plan: Concept
Document, prepared by Campus Partners and adopted by the
university's Board of Trustees and Columbus City Council in mid-
1997, identifies low homeownership as one of the most critical
issues facing the University District. Homeownership has dropped
from 50 percent in 1950 to 12 percent in 1990.
The revitalization plan strongly recommends that Ohio State
create a homeownership incentive program as a key neighborhood
revitalization tool. Over the past year, Campus Partners
developed the incentive program in cooperation with the city of
Columbus, Fannie Mae, Northside Development Corp., the
university's Office of Human Resources and local lending
"I think this is a model that the university should be very
proud of," said Terry Foegler, president of Campus Partners. "It
demonstrates the university's commitment to our broader
neighborhood initiatives and is an important component to
rehabilitating the area." He noted that employer-based
homeownership incentive programs have a proven track record
among large urban institutions, such as Yale University and the
Surveys have shown a significant number of staff and faculty
members are interested in living in the area. Campus Partners
has received about 150 inquiries from potential home buyers.
"The wide mix of housing in the area will accommodate a variety
of needs," Foegler said. "This extremely diverse area has
pockets of high-end homes, but most houses are affordable to
first-time home buyers."
Dovetailing with the university's efforts, the city of
Columbus has targeted $400,000 of its homeownership assistance
funds specifically for low- and moderate-income families to buy
homes in the University District. These families do not need to
have any connection to Ohio State. The state of Ohio also has
set aside $500,000 in mortgage credit certificates to promote
homeownership in the University District.
In addition, Fannie Mae is offering mortgage products
through local lending institutions to make homeownership in
central Ohio affordable for more families and individuals.
Fannie Mae, which opened an office in Columbus last year, is the
nation's largest source of home mortgage funds. Fannie Mae has
donated $10,000 to Northside Development Corp., the nonprofit
affordable housing provider serving the University District, to
improve its administrative capacity to assist university
employees in accessing the incentive program. Local lending
institutions also have pledged to support Northside's efforts.
Ohio State's Neighborhood Homeownership Incentive Program
will be funded with $500,000 of the $3 million of unrestricted
gift money to the university committed by the university's
trustees last year to implement Campus Partners' projects. The
homeownership program targets two-thirds of the funds to the
neighborhoods closest to the Columbus campus, which have the
highest priority for revitalization, with one-third to the
remainder of the University District.
Down-payment assistance will be awarded -- on a first-come,
first-served basis while funds are available -- after receipt of
a copy of the employee's accepted purchase contract on a home in
the University District and completion of an assistance
application. Assistance funds then will be held 90 days for the
Northside Development Corp. will administer the program in
cooperation with Ohio State's Office of Human Resources.
Northside, in cooperation with area realtors and lenders, will
sponsor workshops to assist and educate university employees who
are prospective home buyers.
The first workshop will be Saturday, May 9, from 1 to 3 p.m.
in room 100 of the Northwood-High Building, 2231 N. High St.
Parking is available in the rear of the building. A second
workshop is scheduled for Saturday, May 23, from 10 a.m. to noon
at the same location. Additional workshops will be scheduled.
At the workshops, Northside will advise prospective home
buyers on financing contingency language in their purchase
contracts, on the tax consequences of the incentive program, on
pre-qualification with lenders, and on other assistance programs
which may be available through financial and governmental
University employees can register for the workshop by
calling Northside's home buyer information line at 299-9859.
More information on the incentive program also may be obtained by
calling that number.
Increasing homeownership is one of a full range of
strategies to revitalize the neighborhoods and retail areas of
the University District. Campus Partners, established by Ohio
State in 1995 to develop the revitalization plan, is working with
the city, neighborhood leaders and civic associations, and the
university itself to implement the plan's recommendations. These
recommendations include public services, public safety,
employment, elementary and secondary education, zoning, code
enforcement and High Street improvements.
Contact: David Williams, vice president for student and
urban/community affairs, (614) 292-9334;
Terry Foegler, president of Campus Partners,