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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.

Cincinnati Council Approves Affordable Housing Project For OTR

over the rhine construction
Al Behrman
New apartment buildings under construction amid older buildings in Over-the-Rhine in 2009. 3CDC's latest project will focus on restoring 16 historic buildings and building on four currently vacant lots.

Cincinnati City Council has approved an incentive package and development agreement for a $50 million project to bring more affordable housing to Over-the-Rhine.

The Model Group and 3CDC are partnering for the "Willkommen" project, which will focus on restoring 16 historic buildings and building on four currently vacant lots.  

The development will be on both sides of Liberty Street in OTR.

The project will have 163 residential units. Sixty-nine of those will be affordable to households earning 50%, 60% and 80% of area median income (AMI). The remaining 94 units will be market rate.

The development will also include 20,000-square feet of first floor commercial space.

The city will offer about $5 million in loans for the project, and two of those loans would be forgivable.  Cincinnati will also be selling four city-owned properties to the developers for $1 each. Those properties have a combined estimated value of $966,625.

City Council in December had approved commercial community reinvestment area tax abatements for the project.

Council Member Chris Seelbach said he's happy to see the project in Over-the-Rhine.

"Some of these units start at $500 a unit for a single person," Seelbach said. "They're not low-income housing. But it is part of the equation that we have really needed, that middle income housing, for people making $30,000 to $40,000."

Cincinnati, like many communities across the country, has a lack of affordable housing. The federal department of Housing and Urban Development says that's generally defined as a household paying no more than 30% of its annual income on housing.

The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless has cited statistics showing Hamilton County has a shortage of more than 40,000 affordable homes.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.