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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.

Affordable Housing Charter Amendment Fails

Ambriehl Crutchfield
October 2019: Advocates march to City Hall demanding the affordable housing gap be filled.

The affordable housing charter amendment on Cincinnati's Tuesday ballot failed with about 73% of the vote in opposition. Issue 3 would have required the city to put at least $50 million in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund every year with no end date.

Advocates say they're not done fighting for more funding to respond to the housing crisis. 

"We knew that no matter how the results turned out this evening, our work for affordable housing would not end tonight," said Josh Spring, director of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition. "Unlike typical campaigns that are run by PR firms with glossy cards, we're a movement, and movements don't stop until they get where they're supposed to be."

Spring says he's not sure what the next move will be, but they plan to reach out to the city labor unions that organized much of the opposition to Issue 3.

An email from the "No On Issue 3" campaign included statements from four union leaders expressing relief at the results.

"Voters spoke with a clear voice today. They want fire fighters and EMTs keeping our community safe," said Matt Alter, president of Cincinnati Fire Fighters Local 48. "They want to keep our fire houses open and for us to be there when our neighbors most need us. Issue 3 would have hurt us and hurt Cincinnati. Now it’s time to move forward and find more solutions to provide affordable housing in our city."

Spring says officials in City Hall have not felt the urgency of the situation, but adds he's encouraged the discussion on affordable housing has been elevated.

"This campaign has brought affordable housing to the tips of so many peoples' tongues," Spring said. "We believe all the positive talk about affordable housing is good, we believe it's progress. But we are pursuing action and change that people can feel and touch and see. And so we hope that all those who said affordable housing is so important that they will join us in the march to housing justice in the city of Cincinnati."

Council Member Chris Seelbach tweeted Tuesday evening he will introduce a charter amendment to raise the earnings tax by .01% as a dedicated source of funding for affordable housing.

"This will bring an estimated $20,000,000 a year just for affordable housing," Seelbach wrote. "We can afford an .01% increase because we need more affordable housing in Cincinnati."

It would take six votes on the nine-member council to approve the amendment for the November ballot.

Recent federal data from HUD shows more than 41,000 households in Cincinnati are cost burdened — meaning they spend more than 30% of income on housing — just in very-low and extremely low income categories.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.