CINCINNATI — Hamilton County residents are getting their first look at how the $159 million in federal stimulus money might be spent – a significant portion, $40 million, has been earmarked for affordable housing, with a particular focus on helping homeowners.
Issue 3 advocates believe this is further proof their fight is a worth one.
“What felt stable doesn’t feel as stable after the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cincinnati Action For Housing Now steering committee member Joele Newman said. .
She said the past year shone a light on a decades-old issue.
“We knew that this was a crisis, obviously, before the pandemic and has only been exacerbated as the pandemic has endured,” Newman said.
The proposed $40 million for housing would include production, preservation, protection and mortgage assistance.
“We heard that from a lot of different people, different types of people throughout the whole county that ‘hey, if we want to be a county of the future it has to be affordable,’” Hamilton County commissioner Alicia Reese said. “We can’t price people out of Hamilton County.”
Reese said she was faced with the issue her first week in office.
“I got a handwritten letter from a senior citizen and you could tell her hands were shaking and she said she never missed a payment for her taxes, but just with COVID and everything on top of her she couldn’t survive,” she said.
Reasons like that are why Reese wants to see a comprehensive map highlighting the greatest needs for home ownership and rental property.
“Is it a need for more rental? Is it a need for more home ownership? Is it a mixture of both? Someone who wants to buy their first home,” she said. “Do we have a product for that?”
Advocates said they look forward to seeing the issue prioritized for just as long as they feel it was ignored.
“We know that we need at least that same amount of time to address those problems,” Newman said.
Before the commissioners vote on how the money should be used, there will be two public hearings .
In addition to the money from Hamilton County, Wednesday the Cincinnati City Council approved spending $12.4 million in money from the American Rescue Plan on affordable housing. That’s in addition to the $35 million that was set aside last month.
In total, that all adds up to nearly $87 million designated for affordable housing.