Columbus City Council passed two ordinances on July 11 that faced backlash from residents during public comments.
Ordinances 1801-2022 and 0289-2022 caught the attention of residents as the first measure deals with using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act and the later measure is a rezoning issue that, people opposing the ordinance said, will affect the wildlife and safety of visitors at a metro park. Ordinance 0289-2022 was on its second reading on Monday.
"There's a reason that we've waited six months to be here tonight," Councilmember Rob Dorans said. "I really believe there is a pathway forward to address those concerns."
While the measure was passed along with the ordinance using ARPA funds, some residents provided testimonies that revealed other issues, such as the housing crisis, that councilmembers had to address.
The meeting began with Council President Shannon Hardin calling on the two consent agenda speakers. Joe Motil, the second speaker, brought the councilmembers' attention to the measure using ARPA funds.
The American Rescue Plan Act gave Columbus federal funds to alleviate the consequences of the pandemic. So far, the city has given money from the fund to youth programming and anti-violence efforts.
The new ordinance would allocate $900,000 to the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority to improve health and safety at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
Motil further expressed: "Not one dime of these ARP funds has been spent on affordable housing, period. Yet, in June of this year, 33,000 evictions were filed in Franklin County. 17,000 were filed in Columbus alone from March of 2020 to August of 2021. And we all know that the number of 54,000 individuals paying more than 50% of their incomes towards paying rent is far greater now... Therefore, the city has gone seven months without being able to assist low income nonprofit affordable housing developers with bond funds and will not be able to assist with any bond funds."
Councilmember Shayla Favor championed the Housing for All legislative package, which was passed last year. On Monday, Ordinance 1761-2922 was passed to kickstart the second phase of the Housing for All legislative package. The new measure will provide a grant to the Legal Aid Society of Columbus to provide residents with legal representation when facing an eviction.
Zimmer Development Company is based in North Carolina and