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Cincinnati leaders label housing as a priority in 2024, 2025 city budget proposal

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Posted at 6:15 PM, May 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-26 18:15:37-04

CINCINNATI — Housing issues are getting the attention of those at Cincinnati City Hall as city leaders look at forming the city's the budget for the next two years.

The proposed fiscal year 2024 and 2025 budget includes funding to address issues like eviction and code violations. This includes $1 million for a program that provides tenants with access to counsel and emergency rental assistance for tenants facing eviction.

The city is also recommending more than $1 million to create a code enforcement team to better respond to concerns about code violations and negligent landlords. That team would be comprised of nine full-time positions added to the city's building and inspection department.

"Not only will this new unit work to protect tenants and neighborhoods from poor housing conditions, but their work will generate revenue — both directly through citations and indirectly through protecting and improving property values," says the city manager's message within the budget proposal.

The program will also monitor blight enforcement, nuisance abatement and tenant protections. The city's proposed budget currently allocates around $1.46 million for the proposed department each year.

The proposed budget also includes roughly $550,000 for a new pilot rental rehabilitation loan program.

"We were really intentional with saying, 'hey, how do we find a way to get those properties that are not being utilized for people to live in to give people a resource to where they can borrow the money," said Cincinnati City Manager Sheryl Long.

The program aims to target smaller rental properties to help get more affordable housing available.

The budget discussion also comes as the city faces a deficit.

"Our expenses frankly are growing more quickly than our revenues," said Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval. "We are living in a very difficult and frankly uncertain time. The ground is moving under our feet and so what this budget tries to do is act responsibly in anticipation of that dire fiscal situation that we're walking into next year."

City leaders said with fewer people commuting into the city to work after the COVID-19 pandemic, the city is collecting less income tax. They plan to use American Rescue Plan Act dollars to make up for it in Fiscal Year 2024, which starts in July.

By Fiscal Year 2025, though, the city could be facing a nearly $9.5 million operating budget deficit. Plus, city leaders say there's about $400 million in deferred maintenance.

"Which is why this council and I have been so aggressive at looking for new streams of revenue to make us. less reliant on our earnings tax revenue," Pureval said.

The city increased the property tax rate for 2024, plus Pureval said the possible sale of the Cincinnati Southern Railway to Norfolk Southern could be a potential revenue stream.