Expanding affordable housing options for students


Lack of affordable housing is a barrier for many in America and has left many community college students facing homelessness.

More than a quarter (26.6%) of all public community colleges have on-campus housing. And in the last year, more community colleges have been working—often in partnership with outside organizations — to provide affordable housing options for their students.

In early March, Columbus State Community College announced plans for Opportunity Pointe, a $47 million housing project adjacent to the college’s downtown campus.

This article appears in the April/May issue of Community College Journal, published by the American Association of Community Colleges.

The Ohio college has an independent real estate nonprofit, Columbus State Community Partners (CSCP), which was authorized in 2019 by Columbus State’s board of trustees to “advance, encourage and promote real estate development that supports the college’s mission,” according to the college’s website.

CSCP is partnering with housing developer Woda Cooper Companies, Inc., which will build and manage the 160-unit affordable apartment complex. Twenty units in the complex will be set aside for Columbus State students.

CSCP will contribute seven parcels to the project through a long-term land lease with Woda Cooper, which aims to secure additional parcels on the block.

A bridge to success

“The Opportunity Pointe apartments will simultaneously address a critical student need, support the broader regional demand for affordable housing and revitalize a largely dormant downtown block,” said Zachary Woodruff, the college’s chief real estate development officer and CSCP executive director.

Columbus State expects to incorporate Opportunity Pointe’s dedicated student apartments into its existing Success Bridge student housing support program.

Success Bridge provides housing counseling, one-time or short-term housing payment assistance and other supports. The program is a partnership between the college, the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority, Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio, Community Shelter Board and Home for Families.

“Housing insecurity is a major barrier that can derail students’ plans. Having affordable apartments so close to our campus will offer a tremendous benefit to students,” said Desiree Polk-Bland, Columbus State’s vice president of student affairs.

The project isn’t final, though. It’s contingent on a 9% tax credit that Woda Cooper is seeking from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. If tax credits are approved, development would begin in early 2025, according to a press release.

Alleviating financial constraints

Howard Community College (HCC) students can get a special rental subsidy, thanks to a new pilot program funded with $1 million provided by Howard County.

The Student Rental Subsidy Program will specifically aid HCC students who earn less than 60% of Howard County’s median income — or $54,411 for a household of one.

The nonprofit Columbia Housing Center will administer the program. The Maryland college’s financial aid services will refer students in need of a rental subsidy to CHC.

With the housing assistance, students can “focus on their pathways to success in work and life,” said HCC President Daria Willis.

Read the full article in the current issue of CC Journal.

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