Access to safe and livable housing is a basic right and a cornerstone of our community’s well-being. Yet, Cincinnati continues to face an enormous shortage of affordable housing. Policies by the City to meet demand have been piecemeal and haven’t gone far enough. Faced with stagnating incomes, many residents have been forced to put aside their dreams of becoming homeowners. Tenants are struggling to back pay their rents or afford security deposits and many have no choice but to stay in substandard housing conditions.
I value the hard work of our city’s partnerships to support access to safe and affordable housing and will work hand-in-hand with our city’s housing advocates, housing organizations, and community to swiftly deploy effective solutions to ensure everyone has a secure and safe place to live.
In my first 100 days, I will address the urgent needs faced by thousands of vulnerable tenants and homeowners. Specifically, I will:
Ensure adequate resources are available for eviction prevention and rental support
Rents have risen more than 20% in the past five years and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are placing even more pressure on tenants. I will ensure existing eviction protection programs are adequately funded using the American Rescue Plan funding and other sources and will work in tandem with our housing community to support programming that expands awareness and deployment of emergency assistance.
Make Sure All Residents Have Access to Basic Utilities
No one should have to go without clean water, electricity, or heat. I will protect utility assistance programming in place for city water bills and ensure vulnerable residents have access to year-round assistance programs for electric and natural gas bills to ensure no one’s service goes uninterrupted during our economic recovery period.
Enforce Code Violations for Rental Buildings
Too many residents have no other choice but to live in buildings with substandard living conditions. I will continue to bolster code enforcement for Cincinnati’s over 80,000 rental properties and will emphasize enforcement of Cincinnati’s Rental Registration. I will also work to ensure that the city’s Rental Choice legislation is enforced so that renters have affordable options for paying their security deposits.
In the longer term, Cincinnati needs a plan for creating more affordable housing units and to support vulnerable homeowners and renters on their path to homeownership and economic empowerment. I will work to:
Support Vulnerable Homeowners through Home Repair Financing
Over 75% of homes in Cincinnati are over 40 years old and require capital for upkeep. Struggling homeowners shouldn’t have to choose between paying their bills or making essential repairs to their homes. I will leverage both federal relief funds as well as private capital to expand homeowners’ and contractors’ access to low-interest financial loans and grant programs for essential home repairs.
Reform Zoning Policies to Support Development of More Affordable Housing Units
Our current zoning policies are limiting the amount of affordable housing that can be built. Only 23% of residentially zoned land allows for anything denser than single-family housing. To meet Cincinnati’s housing shortage of over 28,000 units, I will prioritize reforming zoning policies to support greater multi-family units, as well as other innovative zoning policies such as accessory dwelling units. I will also ensure that new development prioritizes transit-oriented development with access to multi-modal forms of transportation
Tax Abatement Reform
The city’s tax abatement policies favor the development of wealthy neighborhoods. I will support tax abatement reform that prioritizes their use in historically underprivileged neighborhoods. I will also ensure that tax abatements from large development are put to quick and proper use in expanding the supply of affordable housing.
Funding the Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF)
I will prioritize finding permanent funding sources for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. To ensure the fund is as resilient and sustainable as policy, I will tap into multiple funding sources and will explore innovative ways to structure the fund, such as a revolving fund model. Sources of funding could include using state recording fees, linkage fees, impact fees, document recording fees, hotel and/or Airbnb taxes, eviction filing fees, sheriff sale fees, developer fees or property tax funds recouped through revisions to the tax abatement policy or expiring abatements. I will also ensure that development funded by the AHTF goes to supporting local and well-paid jobs.