City Leaders Announce Lien Forgiveness Legislation
Published on April 03, 2023
Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and Councilmember Shayla D. Favor today announced new legislation that would forgive home-repair loans previously awarded to hundreds of low-income Columbus homeowners. The legislation, if approved by Columbus City Council, would forgive city-issued loans issued to homeowners who have remained in their homes for at least 10 years since the loans were first issued and who have no active bankruptcies or foreclosures. Currently, there are 591 loans in the portfolio totaling $7.6 million that will be considered for forgiveness.
“The Columbus Housing Strategy is about more than simply building more affordable housing. It’s also about preserving affordability by protecting our neighbors from being displaced,” said Mayor Ginther. “That is why the lien forgiveness legislation being considered by Council tonight is so important, and why we must continue to create additional pathways to equity, opportunity and generational wealth for even more of our residents.”
Starting in the 1980s, when a homeowner requested home repair assistance from the City of Columbus, this assistance often came in the form of a loan, typically deferred with 0% interest. Any payments owed as a result of this assistance weren’t due until the property was sold – with the intention of the increased home value being large enough to pay back the total value of the loan. Over time, however, most loan programs were converted to grant programs, which do not require repayment. The lien forgiveness legislation currently before City Council is designed to address the inequities between old and new homeowner assistance programs.
“Home repair is a key solution to Columbus’ housing crisis. By preserving existing housing stock, we ensure that safer, habitable units stay in our community. Home repair assistance from the city shouldn’t be the reason a family is burdened with debt,” said Councilmember Favor. “This lien forgiveness legislation creates instant wealth building opportunities for more brown and Black homeowners in our city.”
If passed, the legislation would enable the city to identify qualifying homes and release them from the lien when appropriate, without any administrative effort on the part of the homeowner. The legislation would immediately address liens that are at least 10 years old and continue on an annual basis.