CINCINNATI – The town hall is discussing a proposed amendment to the statutes to set up a “trust fund” that supporters say would help alleviate the affordable housing shortage in the city. However, others fear that this could have unintended consequences.
Alderman David Mann is chairman of the council’s budget and finance committee and is running for mayor. He fears that the proposed amendment to the statutes, which would require lawmakers to allocate $ 50 million annually for affordable housing, does not specify exactly how the city budget will finance the fund.
Mariel Carbone / WCPO
David Mann speaks to WCPO at his downtown law office on February 25, 2020.
“Of course we are all in favor of affordable housing. That is not the question; the question is how can you pay for it? And can you pay for it without taking away other things?”
“In all honesty, I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’m very concerned about the impact it could have on our ability to meet our basic needs as a city.”
The proposed change would add a new article to the city charter. A petition designed to demonstrate support for the change contains the text:
The new article lists several potential sources of funding for the affordable housing budget, including the city’s $ 400 million general fund that raised the flags for man.
“It’s said to be spending $ 50 million a year on affordable housing. The only way to do it is to get that money out of our budget, which is about $ 400 million a year,” Mann said. “So that’s an eighth of the money that needs to be averted. And how do we do that without affecting the police, ambulances, fire brigade and snow removal?”
Josh Spring, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, supported the amendment, saying Mann’s concerns were unfounded.
“There’s nothing in this amendment to the statutes that requires cuts. It’s just not there,” he said. “People should read it. It doesn’t say that.”
The proposed charter language also indicates the anticipated rental of the Cincinnati Southern Railway – this agreement has not yet been reached – a fee for housing developments of four or more units and any commercial or non-residential construction or personal income tax on stock options in listed companies.
The proposed change would also prohibit the use of a general income tax levy to fund the fund, unless such an increase was approved by voters when voting for that specific purpose.
Mariel Carbone / WCPO
Josh Spring, shown here during an interview with WCPO on February 25, 2021, heads the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition.
For Spring, Cincinnati, and Hamilton Counties, the shortage of affordable housing calls for a solution like the statute amendment as more neighborhoods experience growth in investment and development, and subsequent increases in property values and rental costs.
“The question is, in the neighborhood you live in, has life gotten better for you and your neighbors? Are all of your neighbors still there? Did they afford to be there? I think for quite a few by Cincinnatians, life is harder. “
A 2017 study found that Hamilton County’s need for affordable housing has decreased by more than 40,000 units.
WCPO has asked the other five mayoral candidates for their positions on the proposed amendment.
State Senator Cecil Thomas said in a written statement, “As Mayor, I will make expanding affordable housing a top priority,” but said that changing the statutes “should be the last resort.”
As it is written … the proposed amendment to the statutes is not a viable way to find a sustainable solution. Though well-intentioned, an unfunded mandate of $ 50 million is not the solution. It would bankrupt our city. ”
Raffel Prophett, who spoke to WCPO by phone Thursday afternoon, said it was too early for him to express an opinion while he was gathering more information on the matter.
“Without talking [those proposing the charter amendment]”I’m just not going to make a quick decision,” he said. “That is certainly the right of the citizens to table such an amendment.
“The best I can do is gather information.”
Despite failing to comment on the amendment himself in one way or another, Herman criticized Najoli Mann, saying the city council had emailed him and other mayoral candidates asking for their support for a combined statement on the proposed amendment asked.
In a written statementNajoli said, “I was not part of a study with Mr. Mann or any other candidate for mayor … Mr. Mann should prioritize educating the public on the issue rather than resorting to the horrific practice of shooting down private emails and selecting people to get support. “
WCPO will add other candidates’ comments to the statute amendment as they become available.