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New research fellow at UC will work to find policy solutions for workforce housing in Cincinnati

Mt. Adams and Cincinnati skyline
Sean Foster
Homes in Mt. Adams and the basin in downtown Cincinnati.

A new research fellow at the University of Cincinnati will spend the next three years studying workforce housing in the city. The program is thanks to a $500,000 donation to the College of Law from alum Bruce Eichner.

Law Dean Verna Williams says the fellow will look for policy solutions to increase housing affordable to teachers, law enforcement, nurses, and other middle-class professionals.

“And I hope that it's the beginning of more work in this regard, because it's just vitally important,” Williams said. “We can't let our cities become the preserve of the ultra-wealthy.”

The research fellow should be in place by the fall semester. The three-year program will focus primarily on housing in the Cincinnati area, but Williams says it will be applicable to other cities facing similar problems.

“I think it differs from other research fellowships in that it's saying upfront, look, we want you to help solve a problem,” Williams said. “This is not about just publishing an article that's going to have a million footnotes and will talk in language that people can’t understand and will see the applicability to real life; this is something that is about real life that has real consequences for real people.”

The visiting legal scholar will be based in the Nathaniel R. Jones Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice at UC Law.

Eichner graduated from the UC College of Law in 1969 and is now chairman of a private real estate development firm in New York City. He says the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the lack of workforce housing because health care workers couldn’t afford to live where they worked.

“I see this as being a partnership between academics and a real issue for every city in the United States,” Eichner said in a statement.

“I think Cincinnati is really well suited to do this because we've got the School of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning, we've got a first rate law school, first rate College of Business,” Williams said. “We're known for innovation, not just at the University of Cincinnati, but also in the city of Cincinnati. There's no reason why we shouldn't be a leader in this area.”

Federal data shows tens of thousands of Cincinnati households are burdened by housing costs. The vast majority of those households are low, very low, or extremely low income.

Becca Costello grew up in Williamsburg and Batavia (in Clermont County) listening to WVXU. Before joining the WVXU newsroom, she worked in public radio & TV journalism in Bloomington, Indiana and Lincoln, Nebraska. Becca has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including from local chapters of the Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists, and contributed to regional and national Murrow Award winners. Becca has a master's degree in journalism from Indiana University and a bachelor's degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Becca's dog Cincy (named for the city they once again call home) is even more anxious than she is.