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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.

HUD To Fund 241 New Housing Vouchers In Cincinnati

housing
Courtesy
/
CMHA
CMHA has 11,000 households living in homes and apartments throughout Hamilton County in the Choice Housing Voucher program.

New federal funding will offer housing vouchers to 241 households in the Cincinnati area. The money comes from the CARES Act through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority CEO Gregory Johnson says Cincinnati has one of the largest subsidized housing programs in the country, with more than 11,000 active vouchers.  

"We still, additionally, have 6,000 people on a waiting list that are in need of a voucher," Johnson said. "I think every little bit helps, but there's a great need in our community."

Johnson says the waitlist has been closed since before the pandemic started, so the actual need is even greater.

"Just to give you an example: in 2019, within 48 hours, we had 17,000 people apply," Johnson said. "And if I was to open it up tomorrow, I'm pretty sure by the end of next week, we would be probably be around 20,000 people on a waiting list in need of a voucher."

The new emergency vouchers are less restrictive and are aimed at people experiencing homelessness or at risk of losing housing. Johnson hopes to recruit more landlords to accept vouchers so residents have more options.

Typical vouchers are available for very low-income households making 0-50% of the Area Median Income: $42,700 a year or less for a family of four, and $29,900 a year or less for an individual. Voucher recipients have to pay 30% of their adjusted gross income for rent, but CMHA will pay the full rent amount if the resident has no income.

The 241 CARES-funded emergency vouchers are less restrictive.

"We know that people have fallen on hard times because of the pandemic, and for a variety of reasons," Johnson said. "We understand that some of these historic setups could be barriers for these individuals and families, and so we want to take that barrier away and allow access as fast as possible."

The emergency vouchers are open to people meeting one of four eligibility requirements:

  • A resident of an emergency shelter or living on the street
  • At risk of entering a shelter or being on the street
  • Fleeing, or attempting to flee, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking or human trafficking, or
  • Were recently on the street or in a shelter and have a high risk of housing instability

CMHA works with about 8,000 landlords in Hamilton County, but is recruiting more. Robert Smith is an independent landlord who accepts vouchers; he says there's an unfair stigma attached to people who use subsidized housing.
"I think that they are people that are hardworking, that are trying to make better improvements for their family's stability as far as a place to stay," Smith said. "They are tenants that really take very good care of the property."

Smith says while many landlords struggled when tenants couldn't pay rent during the pandemic, much of his income was guaranteed with the voucher payments.

Landlords interested in accepting vouchers can contact Miranda Taylor, CMHA landlord outreach coordinator, at Miranda.taylor@cintimha.com or 513-977-5800.