How many affordable housing units does Cincinnati actually need?

Studies show Cincinnati is short 28,000 affordable homes
Cincygram: Looking at the Queen City from on high
Posted at 9:00 AM, Apr 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-28 07:04:52-04

CINCINNATI — For those wondering about the numbers in the affordable housing equation, WCPO reached out to the experts to understand them better. How many affordable housing units does Cincinnati really need?

That answer depends on whom you ask.

The Local Initiative Support Corporation, or LISC, has chapters across the country working to make sure all United States residents have a safe, secure place to live. According to LISC, Cincinnati is short nearly 28,000 affordable housing units, which can be apartments or homes.

That number comes from U.S. Census data. LISC also worked with the Community Building Institute at Xavier University to produce the study that defined the area’s need.

“We looked at five-year data from the American Community Survey and determined that in Hamilton County, there were 40,000 households, roughly, that are severely cost-burdened with their rent cost and housing costs, that in those are households that are in the very lowest range in the city,” said LISC executive director Kristen Baker.

Data used in their study was produced in 2017 and consequently used to present the future housing study in 2020. Similar studies have been used all around the country.

“Our households that are already most financially challenged are spending the most of their income towards housing, and that’s not a sustainable solution,” Baker said. “So, we need to figure out how to create more housing, more affordability across the income spectrum for folks in Cincinnati and Hamilton County.”

She said the affordable housing unit numbers will be revisited as the 2020 census data becomes available.

Baker said that will lead to even more questions including the impact of COVID-19 on the numbers and what else needs attention in the debate to help people afford where they live, such as increased wages.