How would Cincinnati fund $50M affordable housing proposal?

Cincinnati City Hall
Posted at 9:00 AM, Apr 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-28 07:00:14-04

CINCINNATI — Issue Three calls for the city of Cincinnati to allocate $50 million a year to the existing affordable housing trust fund. Where would that money come from? And why $50 million?

Josh Spring, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, explained why Issue Three calls for $50 million annually from the city for the affordable housing trust fund.

“It says that city council will allocate the $50 million, and then it gives a universe of where that money can come from,” he said.

The issue’s crafters based the figure on this estimate: one housing unit runs about $100,000, and the goal is 500 units per year. The hope is, Spring said, that investment will leverage outside dollars to help bridge the affordable housing deficit that exists.

“People have asked, why didn't we dictate a specific revenue source, and the reason is we believe some sources of revenue will be better in some years than others,” he said.

He says they suggested revenue sources, but the city has given reasons for why those aren't possible and has said taking money from the general fund will hurt because some city departments -- like police and fire -- will have to cut jobs.

MORE: Breaking down Issue Three affordable housing proposal

But Spring said jobs aren’t on the line, and new revenue can be generated to do this. He suggests developer fees as a way to generate revenue, along with tying affordable housing requirements to tax abatements.

“The city has been pushing back, which exemplifies why this is something the people of the city need to do...because the urgency is not felt at city hall,” he said, adding that all people need a good place to live that doesn’t cost more than 30% of their income annually.

When that happens, people live paycheck to paycheck, leaving little opportunity to save or avoid foreclosure or eviction when life events come up.

Spring also said this is about making sure the city invests in all neighborhoods, not a select few.