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City officials announce plan to help affordable housing thrive in Cincinnati

housing cincinnati
Posted at 6:47 PM, Jan 18, 2022

Local leaders are looking to make housing in Cincinnati more equitable.

Tuesday, Mayor Aftab Pureval, along with Vice Mayor Jan Michele Kearney and council member Reggie Harris, announced what they called a comprehensive package of affordable housing reform.

“This policy direction comes with a specific goal, a goal that was at the heart of our campaign and will be central to Cincinnati’s equitable growth. And that is to target our incentives to boost mixed income and affordable housing in our most vulnerable neighborhoods, with racial equity at the center of the frame,” said Pureval.

The reforms included a handful of motions and legislation aimed at creating the conditions for affordable housing to thrive: A city-wide housing and zoning review, the addition of an employee to the law department who will help hold bad landlords accountable and legislation to help streamline the process for developers to apply for state and local low-income housing tax credits.

“Low-income housing tax credits are the lifeline for creating any affordable units in the city,” said Harris. “My team is working with the administration to stream line that process. Meaning more affordable housing projects will get stronger city support (and) tax abatements that come with the leverage of the support; to make sure both the city and the developer that are committed to bringing low income housing to the city are cutting bureaucratic red tape. We are making the process faster to bring more affordable units online.”

Many of the items will be discussed Wednesday during the Equitable Growth and Housing committee, which Harris chairs.

Members of the community said they support the proposals.

“We all have to work together, to come together,” said Judith Jones, who is currently looking to find somewhere affordable to live.

Jones is facing eviction after her landlord sold the Clifton home she’s been staying in for the last 12 years.

“The new landlords, the owners are charging three times the price. For a one bedroom they’re charging $2,500,” said Jones.

In College Hill, Diane Thomas agreed that finding affordable housing can be difficult city wide.

Thomas moved several times in the last decade, including to an apartment in Mount Airy and, most recently, to an apartment in College Hill.

“It was hard. I had other people helping me. You have to go out every weekend, looking for an apartment,” said Thomas. “Application fees. That’s another thing. A lot of people don’t have the fees for the application.”

She said it’s especially difficult as more market-rate housing is being built throughout the city.

“I’m sure someone wants to stay in a nice apartment, nice house, be comfortable like everyone else," said Thomas. "But, when you’re making it that hard and that expensive, it’s going to be hard for people that can’t afford the nice stuff.”

Thomas said she is glad the new council is looking to address the affordable housing issue in Cincinnati. However, she said talking about it is not enough. She’d like to see results.

“You should show us, okay well, we got this. We’re going to help you,” said Thomas. “But, you got to show us, you can’t just talk it. Because anyone can say anything.”