The City of Columbus and Franklin County partnered together to prepare a fair housing study known as an Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice, or AI. As the capital of Ohio, Columbus is not only the seat of state government, but also home to the flagship campus of The Ohio State University and a population of over 900,000 residents. The wider study area, consisting of the whole of Franklin County, has a population over 1.3 million. Accordingly, the AI studied issues of concentrated urban poverty as well as inequities of suburban growth in the county.
One unique issue surfaced by the AI was the complicated patchwork of 16 individual school districts serving Franklin County’s residents. Some of the districts extend into neighboring counties while some are wholly within other, larger school districts Not only does this system make it difficult for new residents and prospective homebuyers to determine areas with access to the schools they desire, but it can also result in great disparities from one block to the next in the performance and demographic composition of a student’s school. None of complexity was reflected in the HUD-provided data associated with the AI project, but Mosaic’s thorough research into the community – through stakeholder interviews and review of local documents – revealed this underlying equity issue and spurred us to study it further as part of the AI. This example demonstrates well the importance of a consulting team that is truly open to the input of community members and a research process flexible enough to accommodate local nuance even in a report format that is highly standardized by HUD regulation.