The largest consortium of affordable housing professionals from 29 states gathered recently at the Ohio Housing Conference in Columbus, Ohio. Cohosted by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency and the Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing, the Ohio Housing Conference has served as an unparalleled forum for 21 years for industry professionals to discuss the challenges and trends facing affordable housing, while encouraging new ideas and innovative solutions.
This year’s conference, “Build the Change, Be the Change” provided opportunities to engage more than 1,700 professionals in the affordable housing industry, while highlighting industry best practices, expertise and experience and encouraging collaborative and innovative discussions around strategies in affordable housing.
“The Ohio Housing Conference continues to provide exceptional training, education and networking opportunities for industry professionals,” said OCCH President and CEO Peg Moertl. “We’re proud to work with OHFA in educating attendees and ensuring our industry has the knowledge to support Ohioans in need.”
Local and national economic experts, Dr. Edward Hill (The Ohio State University); Robert Vogt (Vogt Strategic Insights); and Danushka Nanayakkara-Skillington (National Association of Home Builders) discussed the economic forecast for Ohio and explored current and future trends and issues impacting renters and homeowners. Kathie Fallon (Ohio Housing Finance Agency) moderated the plenary.
Current housing policy, the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, the upcoming election, and the federal housing budget were the hot topics discussed in the Housing Policy Plenary. Moderated by Hal Keller (Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing), the panel included national experts Michael Novogradac (Novogradac & Company); Marietta Rodriguez (NeighborWorks America); and Bill Faith (Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio).
This year’s attendees were treated to an inspiring and uplifting keynote delivery by Alton Fitzgerald White, acclaimed actor and Broadway star. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, White detailed his journey from Ohio to Broadway, while delivering the message of giving our best performances every day and living life with passion and purpose. Best known for his role of Mufasa in the Broadway company’s Lion King, he is the author of MY PRIDE: Mastering Life’s Daily Performance.
The Women in Affordable Housing Plenary provided an insightful and invigorating conversation about race and gender equity with a diverse group of business and housing industry leaders. Moderated by Peg Moertl (Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing), speakers included Burgundi Allison (Annie E. Casey Foundation); Emily Cadik (Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition); Kathleen Ison-Lind (Episcopal Retirement Services); and Byna Elliott (Fifth Third Bank). Conversations explored what it means to respect voices and experiences that are different from our own, while advancing equality in various areas of influence.
A special highlight of the conference was the presentation of The William J. Graves Ohio Housing Excellence Award, presented to Greater Ohio Policy Center. This award is given annually to a partner who is dedicated to providing safe, quality affordable housing; strengthening Ohio’s communities, and providing critical resources to the State of Ohio to prevent and end homelessness. Greater Ohio Policy Center works to improve the communities of Ohio through smart growth strategies and research.
Next year’s conference will be held December 1-3, 2020 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.