American Rescue Plan set to convey windfall to Better Cincinnati housing initiatives


Between the city of Cincinnati and Hamilton County as a whole, the county’s municipalities will collectively provide $ 90 million for affordable housing projects. How the money will be divided, however, remained to be seen on Thursday.

From repairing run down properties to building new properties on vacant lots, the proposed funding from upcoming city and county budgets, along with American Rescue Plan money, will translate into profit for various housing initiatives and nonprofits across the area – organizations like Bethany House .

CEO Susan Schiller said the potential increase in affordable housing resources and the fight against homelessness sometimes bring her to tears.

“Oh my god, I’m going to cry,” she told WCPO on Thursday. “We have seen homelessness and homelessness in the family increase.”

Bethany House will receive $ 3 million from the City of Cincinnati this coming fiscal cycle as part of funding the local government is receiving from the government under the Pandemic Relief Act signed by President Joe Biden. They will use the money to consolidate the five existing shelters into a new facility in Bond Hill, which will also embed other resources for people and families affected by homelessness.

“What’s so great is that every family can have their own room,” said Schiller. “They can’t leave the shelter until they find an apartment to move into, and there just aren’t enough affordable housing in our community.”

Affordable housing has been a hot topic in city politics year-round: Election 3, which would have amended the city charter to expand the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to an annual budget of $ 50 million, hit the polls May fail, but city guides say this doesn’t mean it isn’t a priority for them.

“That notion that county and city leaders did not support is just not true,” said Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman.

Smitherman and the rest of the city council approved around $ 12.5 million from the American rescue plan to participate in various housing initiatives. In addition to Bethany House, funding is being provided to the Port Program, which helps low-income families fix violations of the Code in their homes. Another part of the financing is used for the affordable housing fund.

“It repeats that we have always supported affordable housing,” said Smitherman.

The city council has also voted in favor of creating a $ 35.5 million pool of loans funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for affordable housing projects. At the end of the county, the Board of Commissioners announced that it would allocate $ 40 million for the American rescue plan to move towards affordable housing.

All that money between the city and the county means the two governments must work together to make sure it is invested wisely and to avoid layoffs. Smitherman said investing in community partners who are already working and coordinating is the best way to spend the money.

“I think companies like the Port Authority, companies like (the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority) … all these companies that the county and the city trust is a great regional approach, having the city and county working together through those companies,” he said said.

Greater Cincinnati Port Development Agency will receive $ 2.5 million from the city’s pandemic aid for their affordable housing projects.

“We’ve been tearing down old, ruined, basically falling buildings, and so we have all these broken-toothed neighborhoods where we have empty lots between the houses,” said Laura Brunner, Port CEO. “This will allow us to go back in and fill those broken teeth with new homes that are affordable.”

This money will help build 50 affordable single-family homes within the Cincinnati city limits.