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Affordable housing is on the ballot in Cincinnati. Here are the arguments for, against Issue 24

The initiative will appear your ballot as Issue 24
Cincinnati neighborhood houses
Posted at 9:11 PM, Nov 02, 2023

CINCINNATI — Lack of affordable housing is an issue across the country. In Cincinnati, voters will decide on Tuesday, Nov. 8 whether they want to increase taxes to create more affordable housing in the city.

“In our city, we are short at least 28,000 affordable homes,” said Josh Spring with Cincinnati Action for Housing Now, who is in favor of the issue. “There are 36,000 households in our city at least that cannot afford their housing today.”

Issue 24 would amend the city’s charter to raise the earned income tax from 1.8% to 2.1%, which was the rate back in 2019. Spring said the increase would cost most Cincinnati households $11 dollars a month.

“Issue 24 allows us to raise at least between $40 and $50 million dollars every year to truly invest in affordable housing,” Spring said. “Issue 24 allows for the development and preservation of housing of all sorts.”

Spring said there would also be rent caps.

“For example, if you think of a family of four looking for a 3-bedroom that would max out at $788 dollars a month, including utilities, which of course is unheard of in our city,” he said.

Dozens of organizations and pastors are backing the ballot measure including Cincinnati NAACP, ACLU Ohio and Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition.

However, there are organizations who are against it, such as both the Hamilton County Democratic and Republican parties, Realtor Alliance of Greater Cincinnati and all nine current city council members.

“We’re not against initiatives that address affordable housing. What we’re opposed to is the tax components of Issue 24,” said Mary Huttlinger with the Realtor Alliance of Greater Cincinnati.

Huttlinger said now is a bad time because property valuations are about to increase, which means property taxes will get higher.

“With an earnings tax, it’s a double whammy for folks in Cincinnati,” she said. “It’s putting the cart before the horse. There’s a bigger more comprehensive housing initiative underway in the city.”

Huttlinger is talking about the Cincinnati Development Fund (CDF). Last year, it helped with over 500 affordable housing projects.

CDF is one of the partner organizations for Vandalia Point which will create 52 units of dedicated affordable housing in Northside. There was a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday morning at the intersection of Blue Rock Street, Hamilton Avenue and Vandalia Avenue.

“Why would we increase taxes when we already have an entity and an initiative through the CDF who’s addressing affordable housing, providing and renovating units for low-income individuals?” Huttlinger asked.

Spring said Issue 24 would create more affordable housing complexes and would help more people.

“Sixty-two percent of Cincinnati households fall within the income ranges that Issue 24 targets,” he said.

If Issue 24 passes, a second vote will be required next November to implement it. If it passes a second time then the tax increase will go into effect in 2025.

Spring said the city would manage the funds with a consulting advisory board of city residents.

To see exactly what Issue 24 will appear like on your ballot, click here.