Cincinnati Council approves borrowing money to move shelters

Nov 7, 2012

Update:  The $7 million Cincinnati is borrowing to relocate homeless shelters will only be used for two projects and not three as earlier reported.  

Council Member Chris Seelbach said City Manager Milton Dohoney, Jr. mis-spoke Wednesday when he said the funds would benefit three shelters.  

The loan money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development will help with new facilities for the Drop Inn Center and a Y-W-C-A women's shelter in Mount Auburn.  The loan funds will not assist City Gospel Mission's move to the West End.  The city is using other capital dollars for its portion of that project.

Cincinnati Council has approved borrowing money to cover the city's portion of a plan to move three homeless shelters to new locations.  

The city committed $10 million to Homeless to Homes and needs $7 million to complete the funding.  

City Gospel Mission will move to the West End and a new women's shelter will be built in Mount Auburn.  The Drop Inn Center will relocate too, but finding a site for it is proving difficult.  

Council Member Chris Seelbach supported moving forward with the loan, but he's concerned about the Drop Inn Center's location.

“We already know the locations of the YWCA and the City Gospel, and they’re outside of Over the Rhine,” Seelbach said.  “I would hope that we could find a location for the Drop that is in Over the Rhine and that there isn’t a continued effort to push very low-income people out of this neighborhood, because in my opinion, they’re an incredibly important part of the neighborhood.”

Some residents argued the city shouldn't borrow money to relocate shelters.  They said it would be better to build more affordable housing units.

Josh Spring is the Executive Director of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition.

“Borrowing this money is not something where we think we might be able to pay it back, or maybe we will, we know we won’t,” Spring said.  “We know we will have to pay it pack out of dollars meant for housing and jobs.  Dollars meant that can prevent homelessness.”

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development will make the loan and the city's Community Development Block Grant funds will be the collateral.  The money for the shelter portion will be repaid over 20 years at a $500,000.  The block grant money would then be unavailable for other initiatives or projects.