Richland County Commissioner approves funding for housing study


Richland County Commissioners have set the stage for a major county-wide housing study that is expected to set the direction for development in the area over the next 10 years. The board of directors unanimously agreed to provide up to $ 40,000 of the expected cost of $ 100,000 to hire a consulting firm to conduct the study after meeting with a project steering committee made up of representatives from City of Mansfield, Office of the Richland County Treasurer and Land Bank, Regional Planning, Richland Chamber and Economic Development, Richland County Foundation, Area Agency on Aging, Catholic Charities and Mansfield Metropolitan Housing Authority.

“For the record, I think we know there are some things that we are missing in our housing inventory here in Richland County, and we want to be very clear on what the data is telling us we are missing and from. this information, we are going into the future, ”Jessica said. Gribben, liaison officer for the economic development of the chamber. “The future of businesses that locate in places is very much tied to the workforce and having a strong and skilled workforce is a key factor in having good housing to live in. “

Gribben said officials want hard numbers to back up what they know anecdotally and use the numbers to create an environment where people want to live and that there are options for them to live across the spectrum. She explained that this means there is interest in the market rate, luxury housing and the available housing stock, as the local workforce is “global”.

Richland County Regional Planning Director Jotika Shetty said a county-wide effort creates the opportunity to collaborate and “stack” funding dollars to enable further growth in the fuel market. lodging. She also pointed out that many other communities in Ohio are aggressively completing housing studies with American Rescue Plan Act funding.

Shetty said available housing is one of the top three issues that potential businesses look at when reviewing a community’s strategic plan. “Our horizon for this study is 10 years, so we can ascertain the current trends so that if we need to pivot and take other strategic actions, we can do that,” she said.

The study will take a county-wide approach

According to a brochure developed by the steering committee, the study will help county officials and organizations develop strategies that include land use and zoning decisions and encourage projects that meet market demand and priorities. community and will help guide decisions about the allocation of public funds and other resources. . The consultant will take a comprehensive county-wide approach to help identify up to six municipalities and geographic areas that will serve as ‘nodes’ for the project and address housing issues such as types, age, development. and housing insecurity.

Commissioners Chairman Darrell Banks asked how the needs of the elderly would be taken into account, while Commissioner Cliff Mears asked if the statistics in the study would be enough to ‘inspire’ developers to invest their money and invest their money. start building low- and moderate-income housing.

District 5 Regional Agency on Aging Director Duana Patton said the agency is actively involved in the development of housing for the elderly and needs market research to apply for and receive grants , tax dividends or tax credits for financing. Mansfield Metropolitan Housing Authority executive director Steve Andrews said there had never been a problem using vouchers to secure affordable housing until COVID struck. Now there are 235 people with good looking for units.

“What this means is that the housing stock is going down, the quality is going down in Mansfield,” Andrews said. “For the first time, Mansfield Metropolitan Housing is ready to start adding new housing stock, and we need to have a housing study to justify the need.”

Shetty said Mansfield has agreed to contribute $ 20,000, including $ 10,000 from the federal Home Investment Partnership program, while Shelby and Ontario will be asked for $ 10,000 each and Lexington and Bellville, if involved, will be asked for $ 10,000 each. will be asked for $ 5,000 each. She told commissioners the group is now seeking funds from the county to start, as many communities are looking for consultants for similar investigations.

Shetty hopes to send out a request for proposals next month, get work started in early 2022, and report back by September or October of next year.

Opening of offers for the Lucas radio tower

In other cases, commissioners have opened bids for the construction of a new MARCS emergency service radio tower in Lucas. The only bids received were $ 653,500 from Tri-County Tower LLC of North Jackson and $ 667,000 from Speelman Electric of Tallmadge. The engineer’s estimate was $ 671,500.

Richland County Sheriff’s Captain Jim Sweat said a lease with the village for the land has yet to be approved, permits approved and equipment ordered before a contract can be awarded. Once the contract is signed, the company that obtains the contract will have 120 days to complete construction.

Commissioners honored by the Mental Health Council

The commissioners also received the 2021 Community Mental Health Partner Award from County Director of Mental Health and Recovery Services Joe Trolian. Trolian told the board he received the award as a “thank you” for providing COVID funds to enable contracting agencies to purchase teleservice equipment to provide remote advisory and support services during the pandemic.

“It allows agencies to do more than sit in front of an old computer with a bad connection trying to give one-on-one advice,” Trolian said. “They were able to offer hybrid services to people who were ready to come. but I couldn’t do it by phone or video.

He noted that funding the purchase of equipment made a “huge” difference for agencies that were unable to afford this type of equipment. Trolian said the award should have been presented at the agency’s annual dinner in September, but the event was canceled due to COVID.

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