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Report shows a few Cincinnati neighborhoods have most of the new affordable housing

A street in Lower Price Hill
Becca Costello
A street in Lower Price Hill. A recent report says no newly-constructed housing units were created in this neighborhood between 2019 and 2021.

A new report shows just 11 Cincinnati neighborhoods gained new income-restricted affordable housing units over the last five years.

City administration analyzed new construction and renovation permits from 2019 to 2021. The results show 983 new income-restricted units, plus another 297 units preserved through renovation. Of those, 80% were in just three neighborhoods: Walnut Hills, Avondale, and the West End.

Council Member Reggie Harris is chair of the Equitable Growth and Housing Committee. He says the report shows the need for a citywide housing strategy.

"Part of that strategy is actually going to be centered around, how do we spark development and communities that don't have any development?" Harris said.

The report only includes units that are income-restricted (generally subsidized), not those that are "naturally occurring" and affordable to low-come residents. Affordability is calculated by Area Median Income; the majority of affordable units were restricted to residents making 60% AMI or below (about $51,000 a year for a family of four).

Officials also analyzed new market-rate housing, although the data is less comprehensive.

From 2019 to 2021, a total of 4,177 new units were added through new construction, an average of 835 per year.

After deducting a conservative estimate of the units lost to demolition, the city has only gained about 570 units per year. That's not enough to keep up with annual population growth — an average 1,237 new residents per year.

The report shows 15 neighborhoods had no new-construction housing units at all in the five-year period.

"Just looking at these neighborhoods that have experienced no growth whatsoever, I dare to say that we probably knew this, but I'm glad that the record reveals it," said Council Member Victoria Parks.

This estimate doesn't include any renovation, so neighborhoods like Over-the-Rhine, with a lot of recent development in old buildings, aren't accurately portrayed.

Officials say they're working to collect more accurate data moving forward to help inform housing policy decisions.

"Now, when we go back in the next five years, we're going to have a much more in depth understanding of where we're building, where we're growing," Harris said.

A complete picture of the affordable housing gap in Cincinnati would require a third-party analysis, looking at both the supply and demand sides of the equation.

Data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development shows Cincinnati alone needs more than 19,000 more units for extremely low-income renter households (earning $26,500 a year for a family of four). Hamilton County as a whole has a deficit of about 30,000 such units.

See the full report below:

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.