The Cincinnati Council is seeking solutions to the 28,000 housing gap in affordable housing, and councilors say the problem is a top priority. Advocates renewed calls to address the crisis this week as advice approved a development in Over-the-Rhine without affordable units.
The Council passed a motion on Wednesday that is considered the first step in proactively solving the problem. The motion calls for a comprehensive housing construction report, including the identification of city-owned properties that can be converted into affordable housing.
Steve Goodin, member of the Interim Council, says they want to take a systemic approach rather than “development per development”.
“This is a more than $ 30 million problem. So we think big and this is the first step,” said Goodin.
The motion also creates a new subcommittee to deal with affordable housing and requires an accounting of all current funds in the Affordable Housing Trust and identification of potential sources for additional funding.
Councilor Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney says the Council is unanimous on this issue.
“Everyone on the council, I can tell you, the public, that everyone is concerned about affordable housing and is working towards it.”
Kearney filed a separate motion on Wednesday to consider making affordable housing a mandatory part of all future housing developments that receive state incentives.
“Until we get the development agreements, the communities say, ‘Well, we’ve tried to get them to create affordable housing, they wouldn’t listen.’ I mean, we hear this story over and over again, “Kearney said. “And part of the ‘don’t listen’ is because we didn’t say you have to listen, that’s something we expect.”
Further possible solutions are expected to be submitted soon.
Kristen Baker, executive director of LISC Greater Cincinnati, says she’s optimistic, but progress requires bigger conversation.
“This is a problem, not just to create more housing,” said Baker. “It’s really about how we as a community approach the fact that our housing costs far exceed the incomes of people living within the city limits.”
Baker says the advice appears to be going in the right direction. She says part of the problem is how people are viewed in need of affordable housing.
“We ‘different’ these people and say, ‘That’s not me’ or ‘This ain’t nobody I know,'” Baker said. “But it’s the people we know. It’s the people who are in our lives. And we have to make sure we offer options that make sense for everyone.”
LISC published a report last year outline the crisis and recommend solutions. Baker hopes the council will consider this and other resources from local experts and lawyers.