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Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority offers new incentive to boost supply of affordable housing

Landlords could get up to $1,200
You got the house! Now, how do you afford to furnish it?
Posted at 7:25 PM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 19:25:21-04

CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority is using federal CARES Act dollars to help address Hamilton County’s shortage of affordable housing.

The housing authority on Tuesday announced an incentive program for new and current Hamilton County property owners who lease to families that need affordable housing.

The incentive is for property owners that partner with CMHA’s Housing Choice Voucher Program, formerly known as Section 8. Property owners that make a new commitment to work with tenant-based voucher holders to lease safe, quality affordable housing will get a signing bonus of up to $1,200 for new Housing Assistance Payment contracts executed between July 20, 2020, and Nov. 30, 2020, according to a news release.

“We are using the funds to help attract new landlords and seeking current landlords to expand their use of the Housing Choice Voucher program through this incentive,” Lesley Wardlow, CMHA’s senior communications coordinator, wrote in an email response to questions from WCPO. “Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority is trying to utilize all available resources to help as many families as possible gain access to quality affordable housing.”

Hamilton County has a deficit of 40,000 housing units that are affordable and available to extremely low-income household, or those that earn less than $14,678 per year. And four of the county’s top five jobs don’t pay enough to afford a two-bedroom rental, according to a 10-year housing strategy released in May.

To help address that problem, CMHA will provide the funding for every initial move-in until the agency runs out of money, Wardlow told WCPO. The agency has a budget of $200,000 for the initiative, she said.

Property owners can use the money to improve their properties or in other ways. Requirements for the program are detailed online.

The city of Covington announced in June that it would offer $500 bonuses to landlords who signed a new lease through the city’s Housing Choice Voucher Program.

The city has been using money from the federal government’s pandemic relief allocation to pay for incentives to encourage new leases. The program was retroactive to June 1.

Kim Phillips, Covington’s Housing Choice Voucher Program coordinator, said in a news release that the city had 126 low-income families in June who were certified as potential tenants under the program, but there weren’t enough landlords taking part.

“COVID-19 has had a tremendous negative impact on our families, especially those who worked in the service industry,” Phillips said in the release. “We definitely have families who lost income and need assisted housing more than ever. Unfortunately, the pandemic has created an additional layer of difficulty to the already difficult challenge of finding landlords.”

Property owners in Covington who have questions or would like to participate in the program should call (859) 292-2188. The leases must be new and not just transfers, Phillips said.

More information about the CMHA incentive program is available online.

More information about Covington’s incentive program is available online, too.

Lucy May writes about the people, places and issues that define our region – to celebrate what makes the Tri-State great and shine a spotlight on issues we need to address. Poverty is an important focus for Lucy and for WCPO 9. To reach Lucy, email lucy.may@wcpo.com. Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.