Evan Holt Full Forum Responses
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?
Thank you for the opportunity to speak. I appreciate it. Once again, my name is Evan Holt. Little about me- Cincinnati born and raised. Most of my career has been in the food and bar industry. And I'm seeking to bring a working class perspective into decisions that are being made at City Hall. Again, most of my friends who have been at the forefront as Cincinnati has become a destination for food and bar, especially ones working OTR , can't afford to live in OTR anymore. My mother has been a social worker in the city for 26 years, but she's also spent her entire adult life living paycheck to paycheck, never in a position to save for home ownership. She’s been a lifelong renter, and so have I. So the affordable housing crisis hits us personally. I also worry about coming home to an eviction notice. I also worry about getting priced out of our neighborhood due to circumstances beyond our control. But even if it wasn't my lived experience, housing is healthcare and housing is the number one interest of public safety. We're having a lot of conversations about public safety right now and typically, we reflexively point to policing, but keeping people in safe, stable, affordable housing is the number one interest in public safety. Because housing is a human right. So obviously, I definitely believe we should have a dedicated revenue stream for the affordable housing trust, at least $50 billion. Looking at other cities their trusts are much larger. As Brian mentioned, when the trust was established, there was a dedicated revenue stream established, but I believe it was redirected by the previous administration, elsewhere. So if elected, I would seek to reestablish that dedicated revenue stream by finding others, even leveraging federal tax dollars, as well, because it needs to be the priority. And I'm not a big fan of public-private partnerships. I feel like they overwhelmingly benefit the private, as evidenced by 3CDC and the results of the wholesale looting of our tax dollars. So there are revenue streams we can pursue, but even outside providing affordable housing, we need stronger renter protection to keep people in their homes, it’s the priority, which is why I'm advocating for a tenant bill of rights that will ensure that as well, including rent control measures. If you'd like to find out more, it’ll be on the website. Holtforcincinnati.com. . Thank you.
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?
So I echo the calls that we should have more city owned land, community land trust, like definitely, but as it pertains to our tax abatements that are doled out for housing specifically, then we should have some ordinance to require them to provide for affordable housing, to close the affordable housing gap. In the last administration, most of our tax abatements have been doled out irresponsibly. They were designed specifically to develop neighborhoods, but what they've mostly done is make some already rich people even richer. Nine out of 10 have gone to subsidizing luxury homes and the building of luxury condos that drive up market rate rent. So all these issues feed into each other. So not only do you have the displacement of a developer buying a building and kicking out tenants, when you put up one of those 501 condos and a working class or working poor neighborhood, the surrounding landlords go, Oh, well, they're charging $1200 a month there so I can raise my rent 100 bucks, even though I've done no improvements to existing units. That also exacerbates the displacement we're seeing as a result of these decisions. So yes, I am an advocate for an ordinance that provides for affordable housing as a priority. But again, even beyond that, we need stronger renter protections to keep people in their homes. I will also be an advocate for making sure our tax abatements beyond housing are also being utilized in the interest of developing a neighborhood, because right now 25% of neighborhoods are food deserts. So that'd be a good reason to use tax abatements to incentivize things like that, or incentivize the creation of black owned businesses with community land trust, as I mentioned before, that would also help create some more wealth within a neighborhood. I don't think it's a radical notion, you know, obviously, like Stacey mentioned with the ordinance , it could be adjusted accordingly in the future, but right now we have an affordable housing crisis. So our priority should be affordable housing. 54% of the city are renters. Rental rates have increased city-wide as high as 500%, but 40% of the city is not even making 30k. So this is completely unsustainable, and it should be the priority.
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 unfortunately, we can't completely undo centuries of institutional racism in one election cycle, but as it pertains to housing segregation there’s actually a lot that we can do. The first step is laying infrastructures that affordable housing is all over the city. Even the Chamber of Commerce is saying that Cincinnati's in bad need of zoning changes that promote more affordable housing, denser housing and rent control, even the Chamber's advocating for rent control. So while we do need to create black wealth to black homeownership, right now, affordable rental housing is the priority. No one, especially black working class and working, poor millennials, like myself, will ever be in a position to own a home if we’re already spending more than we can afford for safe, stable, affordable housing. So we need to create more density, but a general upzoning for density isn't enough, we actually need to have an overlay so we can prevent predatory developers from exploiting these upzonings. So my platform seeks to provide for affordable housing while also stronger renter protections. I believe we should seek the model after Cambridge, Massachusetts, which created a city-wide overlay that, over the district, and by right modifies zoning rules for 100% affordable housing. All buildings must be rent-controlled, and at least 50% of the occupants must make 80% of the area median income or less. So I will seek for our city, as I mentioned before,also to invest in co-ops and community land trusts, specifically in underserved neighborhoods. So instead of incentivizing a corporation, for example, to build a grocery store in any one of the 25% neighborhoods that are lacking one, we could be investing in a community owned grocery store that would be beholden to and committed to the neighborhood, without having the ability to pull out whenever they feel like it's undermined their profits. So affordable housing justice, and housing equities, which is one area that I hope to challenge historically racist laws against the status quo, who held power in the city for quite a while. Alot of candidates will say they're supportive of affordable housing, but the question is, who has the political will to go up against the status quo? I believe I’m that person, and I hope I can get your vote come November, or starting October 5 for early voting. And once again, my name is Evan Holt. Thank you.