Cincinnati Council to vote on borrowing money for projects

Oct 29, 2012

Cincinnati Council will likely vote next week to borrow $37 million to fund economic development projects in the city and to cover a portion of the costs of the Homeless to Homes plan. 

The Department of Housing and Urban Development would loan the money and the city's Community Development Block Grants would be the collateral. 

The portion for Homeless to Homes to relocate three shelters is generating some concern. 

Alice Shirtz is with Affordable Housing Advocates and opposes the proposal.

"At a time when we have such a critical shortage of affordable housing, further to structure this is a forgivable loan," Skirtz said.  "It has the potential to penalize our housing development funds in future years and all that for the sake of moving existing shelters."

The city would be providing $7 million dollars of additional funding to relocate City Gospel Mission to a new facility in the West End and construct a new women-only shelter to be operated by the YWCA in Mt. Auburn. 

The plan also calls for moving the Drop Inn Center but Community Development Director Michael Cervey said finding a site has been difficult.

"Site selection is the sticky issue as far as the Drop Inn Center," Cervey said.  "And finding a site that is acceptable to the Drop Inn Center and is acceptable to the city and 3CDC as well."

At least one Council Member questioned Cervey on providing funds for the Drop Inn Center project without the location being determined.

"We are currently holding up the City Gospel Mission and the YWCA for the funding approval process," Cervey said.  "We don't want to run into that same situation once a site is selected in the case the Drop Inn Center."

Council Member Chris Seelbach supports moving forward with the loan, but said it's not the ideal situation.

"The ideal situation is that both parties will have agreed that we want to move, a site has been selected, we're ready to apply for the money and we can move forward the project," Seelbach said.  "So that we can help serve more people and do it in a more efficient way in a building that can offer more than the building does now.  That's not we have today."

The money for the shelter portion would be repaid over 20 years at a $500,000 per year.  The block grant money would then be unavailable for other initiatives or projects.