Over-the-Rhine Community Housing helps with more affordable housing options

Posted at 7:10 AM, May 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-25 07:10:36-04

CINCINNATI -- Finding a place to live in Hamilton County can get pretty tough for low-income families.

Over-the-Rhine Community Housing is trying to bring more options for affordable housing to the area by redeveloping older buildings.

Thomas Fields is one of the people the group has helped. He's had an apartment in OTR for three years.

"At one time, when I was younger in my 20s, I was a responsible citizen, but I kind of derailed," he said.

Fields said he did drugs, committed crime and became homeless. He credits OTR Community Housing for giving him a second chance.

"It's changed my whole life," Fields said.

But there's still a shortage of affordable housing. A recent report states Hamilton County is short by about 40,000 affordable units.

In Over-the-Rhine, developers are buying up nearly every available property available. That's making it difficult for groups that are focused on affordable housing. Right across the senior building where Fields lives, houses are going for $800,000.

"We will struggle going forward to buy properties because the prices have gone up," OTR Community Housing Executive Director Mary Rivers said.

Children are also impacted heavily by homelessness. The average age for a homeless person in the U.S. is 9 years old, according to Rivers.

"So that impacts their education," she said. "It affects every area of our life and so, that stability of home ... if we don;t have that, then it destabilizes everything."

Several groups, like the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, offer grants to help with housing assistance.

Offering incentives to develop affordable housing may also be a solution, according to Rivers.

"It's an issue all around the country," she said.