Question 1: Across the country, local and statewide affordable housing trust funds with consistent, dependable public revenue have long proven to be effective in preserving and producing affordable homes to combat the housing crisis. Cincinnati Action for Housing Now has called for at least $50 million in city funds to be allocated annually to Cincinnati’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Do you agree the City can and should generate at least $50 million city dollars annually, while maintaining existing vital services, and annually allocate it to the development and preservation of affordable housing?
So, our city is short 28,000 units of housing, and even at $50 million per year, if my math is correct, it would take 56 years to make us whole again. However, the problem is, in these next 56 years, as has been happening in the past few decades, thousands of affordable homes have been torn down. So we won't even be able to keep up in 56 years, even at 50 million. With that 50 million, there are various revenue streams that can fund it. As we all know, three revenue streams were presented by the affordable housing advocates when my mother was the president, and she wrote the Affordable Housing Trust Fund legislation that was handed to David Mann to actually institute the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and that number that they came up with from those three items was I think, around $18 million from the railroad. Millions that could come from the taxing of stock options. And then the third option, in that scenario, for issue three was a fee, a developer fee. So we were able to find, in a two week period, as you may know, because I thought I fought very hard against the stadium location being in the West End, but they funded that with $210 million of our tax dollars. They totally destroyed our rainy day fund. The streetcar was funded with hundreds of millions of dollars and Over the Rhine was turned from Black to White, from poor to rich, with a billion dollars of city funding. So we can easily come up with $50 million to support the people, because as the government, our job is to protect the welfare of the people. And that is what we should be doing because we are in an affordable housing crisis.
Question 2: The City of Cincinnati freely awards public subsidies and benefits like land, zoning changes, and tax abatements to private development projects. Hundreds of cities across the country reserve these incentives only for projects that include affordable housing. Would you support an ordinance requiring the inclusion of affordable housing and prevailing wage jobs in order for developers to be awarded these incentives? Thousands of Cincinnatians have been displaced from their homes so that developers can move in people with higher incomes. Would you sponsor an ordinance that would make it such that developers could not both displace people for gain and receive city incentives?
I think it actually is fiscally responsible, because that's the only place that the city actually has leverage when someone comes to us, because we can't control the whole market. And ownership is actually the only thing that's going to solve, in my opinion,ultimately, what's happening with affordable housing. In fact, I do agree with JohnWilliams about what he just said. I would say that the city needs to own as much housing as possible to keep it affordable. That is, the city of Vienna, as an example, owns roughly 200,000units of housing. We can certainly own housing and keep it affordable. Because left to our own devices, the market, leaving it alone will not gravitate towards affordable housing. But if we just look at the zoning changes that are happening, it's almost always to benefit the wealthy developers. We just saw zoning changes take place at Liberty and Elm Street. And in fact, our city council, as it exists now, voted in millions and millions of dollars in subsidies with 0 affordable housing at Liberty and Elm. So when we look at Madisonville, or we just look at the OTR style of development, we don't want that style of development anywhere else in our city, we didn't even want it in Over the Rhine, and we don't want it there now. But we must tie abatements to affordable housing. In fact, we need as a city to always be inclusive, and never exclusive, and this type of inclusionary policy will help to remedy this situation. In this case of liberty and Elm,all the city council had to say is no. No, you can't have this funding and these subsidies that we're offering you unless you create affordable housing.
Question 3: Cincinnati has been cited as one of the most segregated cities in our country. The continuing legacy of systemically racist and classist housing and development policies and practices have left entire communities out of opportunities for economic success, while other communities have been created as places of concentrated wealth. Black People are most harmed by these discriminatory policies. How will your plans for affordable housing benefit Black People specifically? How will you work to increase access to wealthy neighborhoods?
So, I live by Richie’s chicken over by the zoo about 10 doors from there. Avondale has lost about half of its population in the past 20 years. Everything I’m going to say is strictly at the feet of the city council. I want to mention that Democrats have been in power in Cincinnati for 50 years, both with a mayor as well as a democratic majority on the city council. So you know, African American communities in our city have been systematically attacked, starting with the West End 20 years ago, all the way up until now, if you drive down Madison road as my nephew, Philip O'Neil was saying. I grew up in Bond Hill, so when I looked to my left, and I looked to my right, I saw African American faces. Where I live now, on my right side of my house and on my left side of my house are African American people. The segregation that we face is purposeful, it’s economic. What we need to have is a moratorium on the destruction of affordable housing in our city, we need to stop gentrification, we need to end the systemic racism, which is funding white development, luxury development, and not funding affordable housing. That is how our abatement system has been working. We need to invest millions and millions of dollars into our communities, and stop the displacement of our legacy residents, which is happening in every single black community.