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Affordable housing has become a hot-button issue in Greater Cincinnati over the last few years, garnering media attention, promises from elected officials and no small amount of debate. Here's everything you need to know about affordable housing in Cincinnati.

Potential Loss Of Affordable Housing In Walnut Hills Puts Low Income Seniors In Jeopardy

Ambriehl Crutchfield
Developers and Walnut Hills residents listen to the city's presenation at Bush recreation center.

Walnut Hills is trying to balance new development and keep its low-income residents.

During this month's community council meeting, developers of The Hansley asked residents for support to receive a state tax credit that would allow them to repair a distressed residential building. But the ask came at a bad time for low income residents who could be displaced if their building, The Alexandria, forecloses.

An Alexandria resident asked The Hansley developers if they would accept Section 8 housing vouchers - as The Alexandria does - and was told no. 

Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation Interim Executive Director Samantha Reeves says the organization wants to maintain 30% affordable housing stock in the neighborhood. "It's so important to monitor existing affordable units like The Alexandra to make sure we are maintaining that percentage," she says. "That's why it's so important to us to not only advocate for new affordable housing coming online but maintaining existing affordable housing."

But losing The Alexandria could mean the loss of roughly 80 housing units and puts low income senior residents in jeopardy of being displaced.

Throughout Hamilton County, 40,000 families can't find a place to rent or own that is less than 30% of their income, which is what HUD determines to be affordable.

The city of Cincinnati is currently conducting its own housing inventory study for Walnut Hills using census tracts to look for occupancy and housing cost. WVXU reached out to the city to understand how the housing inventory will inform future policies or decisions but did not receive information before publication.

The Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation says maintaining affordable and market rate housing is important to keeping the neighborhood diverse.

Tenants including Tyrone Young are working with Legal Aid but he's not completely optimistic things will work out in his favor. "If you have money you have a voice, you can make things happen," he says. "If you don't have money you don't have a voice and they're going to cast you to the side." He says he currently has no plans to support The Hansley project since they don't have plans to accept vouchers and will charge renters market rate.

In 1977, the community council created the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation to develop quality affordable housing options. Now the foundation works to bring in new development that meets the community's goals inclusive to all residents despite the person's economic status.

"Every project is different," Reeves says. "We say every project can't be everything to every person but maintaining that diverse mix."

According to the foundation, the neighborhood currently has 36% affordable housing units and 62% market rate. The affordable housing percentage includes The Scholar House, which gives preference to families with a household member who qualifies as a post-secondary student.