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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.

City Council Finalizes How To Spend $29M In Stimulus

cincinnati city hall
Jason Whitman
Cincinnati City Hall

Another $29 million in Cincinnati's federal stimulus has been allocated to projects including housing, small business support, summer programs, and the Convention and Visitor's Bureau. Council voted 5-4 Wednesday on a spending plan for the remaining funds in the first year of the American Rescue Plan Act.

Council members debated the merits of two competing plans before voting, with agreement on more than half of the proposed projects, including:

  • $3 million for Bethany House's new shelter project
  • $1 million for public museum support
  • $1 million for a women's business program
  • $1 million for UC Medical Center EMS canopy

The winning plan, proposed by Interim Member Steve Goodin and backed by David Mann, mainly prioritizes small business; the plan proposed by Greg Landsman and Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney focused more on child care and youth jobs.
The ordinance passed with supporting votes from Goodin, Mann, Betsy Sundermann, Liz Keating and Christopher Smitherman.

"We're looking at significant investment in affordable housing," Goodin said. "We're using partners that we know and trust, projects that are ready to go, people and organizations that we know will deliver."

In addition to the Bethany House project, the plan allocates $6.4 million to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and $500,000 for HARBOR, a grant program to support low- and moderate-income households struggling to pay for repairs needed for housing code violations.

Landsman pushed for a $5 million childcare recovery fund. He says childcare has been systemically underfunded in the city.

"We missed the opportunity to fix something that's broken and I think we will regret it," Landsman said. "In part because there will be a lot of people who won't be able to get back to work because of the decision we made today."

Goodin says childcare is an important part of pandemic recovery, which is why he included $1 million for a childcare startup fund through 4C for Children.

Other projects with near-consensus between the two plans include:

  • Children's Hospital expansion College Hill ($2 million approved)
  • Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitor's Bureau ($1.7 million approved)
  • ArtWorks Youth Employment initiative ($500,000 approved)
  • Neighborhood Business District support grants ($2 million approved)

In all, council allocated $29,470,000 Wednesday. The remaining $134 million in the first year's payment was allocated two weeks ago, mostly to fill deficits in the current and upcoming fiscal year budgets.

"I know there was a lot of debate on whether or not we were moving really fast or not," Keating said. "I think the greatest thing that we did was start the debate right as soon as we knew the money was coming."

A second payment is expected this time next year, for a total of about $299 million.

See a complete list of spending decisions below:

Cincinnati ARPA Allocations as of May 19, 2021 by WVXU News on Scribd

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.