An Affordable Housing Effort Is Underway In Cincinnati

Jun 18, 2019

Cincinnati, like many communities across the country, has a lack of affordable housing.  

The federal department of Housing and Urban Development says that's generally defined as a household paying no more than 30% of its annual income on housing.  

There's a new effort underway to develop a 10-year housing strategy in the city.  

City Council will likely approve a resolution supporting that work Wednesday.

Several groups have been working on solutions to address the lack of affordable housing, but they were not working together.  

Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation convened a series of initial meetings to discuss what a community strategy could look like.

"Bringing all of these groups together in a very collaborative effort to try to figure out what are the strategies, what are the priorities," explained Kathy Schwab, executive director of LISC. "And to try to focus in a very efficient and effective way the resources into these strategies that are community-wide supported by residents and our neighborhoods."

The work is being divided into three phases:

  • Phase 1: Review and research until July 31 (current state of housing and needs assessment; data projections and analysis; and review of relevant plans, studies and reports)
  • Phase 2: Process facilitation and working groups until Sept. 30 (working groups on specific content areas and strategy development)
  • Phase 3: Final plan and recommendations until Nov. 30 (strategy and implementation plan, and monitoring and evaluation tools)

The group includes more than 30 elected leaders, city officials, developers, residents, property owners, major stakeholders and institutional funders.

Council Member David Mann is supportive of the effort and said the city will be "cheering on" the initiative.

"It's something that hits very close to home," Mann said. "And if you don't have housing, that is a place of security, a place that your family can thrive, it can only impact all the other things that confronts someone who is living in poverty or near poverty."

Mayor John Cranley said the city will help fund the recommendations of the proposal, but there also needs to be support from the private sector.

"We'll never have enough money to replace 40-50,000 units on our own, so we have to have policies that will allow the private sector to add new, quality units as well," Cranley said. "And then I think the return bargain should be a housing court that holds those landlords accountable for humane treatment of their tenants."

The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless has cited statistics showing Hamilton County has a shortage of more than 40,000 affordable homes.