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Cincinnati leaders announce expanded homeownership opportunities

Mayor Aftab Pureval addressed reporters Wednesday at City Hall on the city's proposal to invest $300,000 investment into the American Dream Down Payment Initiative.
Cory Sharber
Mayor Aftab Pureval addressed reporters Wednesday at City Hall on the city's proposal to invest $300,000 in the American Dream Down Payment Initiative.

Cincinnati will distribute new funds to expand homeownership opportunities for low and middle-income first-time homebuyers.

City leaders made the announcement at City Hall on Wednesday. City administration is proposing a $300,000 investment in the American Dream Down Payment Initiative (ADDI), which is administered by the city’s Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). The initiative supports lower-income residents by providing funds for down payments and closing costs.

This is a one-time investment coming from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Applications are open to Cincinnati residents.

Mayor Aftab Pureval says this is an opportunity to make an impact on equitable homeownership.

"Here in Cincinnati, Black homeownership is only 33%," Pureval said. "33% compared to 73% among white Cincinnatians. When we talk about systemic change and systemic disparities, when we work to address barriers that have created— generational, structural disadvantages for some of our residents— this is exactly what we're talking about."

Black residents in Hamilton County own their homes at roughly half the rate of white residents due to multiple factors including: a history of discriminatory government policies and market practices; inequity in wages; and a pervasive wealth gap.

Pureval says the administration will intentionally market the program to disadvantaged communities to ensure they're aware of the funds.

"Vice Mayor (Jan-Michelle Lemon) Kearney just held a homeownership forum in Price Hill last week, and what we heard from the community was a lack of access to capital was one of the biggest barriers to homeownership," Pureval said. "This action that we're taking directly responds from what we heard from the community."

Kearney says one of the administration's goals is to increase affordable housing, not just for renters, but for potential homeowners as well, and is a part of the administration's commitment to citywide equity.

"We're here for everyone in Cincinnati, and in this case to help low- and moderate-income families to advance economically," Kearney said.

DCED Director Markiea Carter says the initiative will allow the organization to create partnerships to provide financial literacy courses for first-time homebuyers. It will increase the amount of potential funds for potential buyers from $5,000 to $10,000 to make their first purchase.

On Tuesday, it was revealed that only 11 Cincinnati neighborhoods gained new income-restricted affordable housing units over the last five years. Of those, 80% were in just three neighborhoods: Walnut Hills, Avondale, and the West End. Earlier this month, City Council approved a plan to use excess revenue at the end of each fiscal year to provide the city's Affordable Housing Trust Fund a dedicated revenue source for the first time.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.