On a Wednesday evening earlier this fall, members of the Upper Arlington Women’s Club invited me to lead a robust conversation about real estate sales in Central Ohio. It could have continued for hours, if only we had the time to do so. 

I took along some updated statistics. Over a period of 13 months, Upper Arlington was ranked second only to New Albany for the number of expensive properties that appeared on Columbus Monthly’s Top 25 sales lists. Downtown Columbus ranked third, mainly due to condominium sales within high-rises including Miranova, North Bank and Parks Edge. But the most expensive sale during the 13-month period was a $3.2 million mansion at 212 Park Drive, situated between Bexley and the edge of Wolfe Park in Columbus.

As one women’s club member confessed, “I just geek out on these numbers.” Of course, there was talk about how the prices of Upper Arlington homes have skyrocketed. It goes unsaid that these high prices help homeowners accumulate more wealth due to the equity in their homes. During the last six years or so, residents all over Central Ohio have experienced a similar dramatic increase in the value of their homes. Some have decided now is the time to cash in, selling their homes and moving to other, less expensive neighborhoods in preparation for retirement. Others are still holding on.

The following evening presented an interesting juxtaposition. I was in the audience at Homeport of Central Ohio’s Voice & Vision Award Celebration honoring the Rev. John Edgar, who has focused on developing affordable housing in Columbus since 1987, when he was one of the leaders who helped form Habitat for Humanity-MidOhio. The evening was a pointed reminder that homeownership is a blessing, and that not all Central Ohio residents are celebrating the recent equity influx.

Homeport board president and CEO Bruce Luecke reported that an estimated 54,000 Central Ohio households earn less than $30,000 a year and struggle to find any type of affordable housing, including rentals. And if that figure isn’t stark enough, Luecke pointed out that even more families are now struggling to own homes, given the dramatic price increases and high-end development in Central Ohio. Because of that unfortunate trend, Homeport has raised its minimum on median family income, recently deciding that it would begin helping those who have household earnings of up to $75,000 a year for a family of four.

In Central Ohio we are fortunate to have organizations such as Homeport, Habitat and others that focus on helping people buy homes. Yet, these organizations would be unable to do their work if so many good local people did not generously contribute. That reminds me to point out that accompanying this issue is Columbus Monthly’s annual Giving magazine, which appears each December and is chock-full of people who embrace philanthropy in many ways. In this issue of Giving, you’ll learn a lot about the generosity of Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein. They set a powerful example for all.