Full Forum Responses Te'Airea Powell
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 to answer the question, yes, I do think that the city can do that. I have been to a couple of the meetings at City Hall recently where there has been a ton of money given to Cincinnati, I believe it's like $294 million from the America Rescue Act. So I think that that's more than enough. I know that they've already started to divvy that money up for different programs, whether or not it can go $50 million annually, I'm not 100% sure, without affecting our vital resources or vital services, but I do think that we can start with the $50 million for the first year, definitely, with the America Rescue Bond.
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 absolutely would support that ordinance. I know we've seen a lot of people here recently in Cincinnati that have gotten evicted due to the developers wanting to up the rent three and four times that cost. And as a landlord, myself, I've seen a lot of my calls have increased about people looking for affordable apartments and things like that. So I would definitely support that. I think it is important that the city uses their muscle, in a way, to go ahead and try to enforce those types of things. So they need to say yes, you must include affordable housing if we give you a tax abatement, yes, you must have some type of rental caps for X amount of apartments if we give you a tax abatement. I know we often hear the city say there's nothing that they can do, but these are the type of preventative measures that they can do and take in order to stop developers from being predatory towards our Cincinnati residents.
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?
I think with working with access to wealthy neighborhoods, I think that it comes into place, especially in Cincinnati with Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority. As a landlord, I've had some communication with them that has not been the most pleasant, but I think that they need to do better with creating scattered sites for those with housing vouchers. I think that that is important to get people out of the projects, use the air quotes. I think that's one way that they can do that. I think, unfortunately, Metropolitan has caused a rift among themselves and some private landlords, because we see how they are very, I don't want to use the word strict, but nit picky when it comes to certain landlords. However, we see them being very relaxed in other communities. So if you are in a low income or poverty ridden community, it's almost like they approve those housings for people with vouchers to stay there. But when it comes to the north side, which is where one of my properties is, they're very particular and kind of like they don't want to approve certain landlords for that. I think that goes back to the discriminatory policies. Also, we see a lot of landlords that are requiring people to make four times their income of the rent. And I think that that's something that needs to be addressed, too. Although it is a private sector, I think that there should be some type of ordinance against that, because it's kind of ridiculous. Why would a person, and it seems like they only do it to certain people,need to make four times what the actual rent is? So I think that's something that I would be able to address on council, as well.