Jan-Michele Lemon-Kearney Written Candidate Responses
1.)What is your personal experience with homelessness and or housing insecurity? If you have not personally experienced homelessness or housing insecurity, but have been close to someone who was experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity, what do you see as your role? Do you believe housing is a universal human right?
Housing is a universal human right. A few years ago, a friend who used to own a business called to say that he was living in his car and the car was being repossessed. He came to live with us. Many people are one paycheck or one bad break from experiencing homelessness, especially now when so many businesses closed during the pandemic and people lost jobs. Coupled with economic insecurity are skyrocketing rents and property taxes that result in many people losing housing. As a City Councilmember, I supported funding for eviction prevention, homelessness prevention, support for emergency night shelters (and day shelters during the winter months), and services for those experiencing homelessness.
2.)According to federal statistics, almost 26% of the population (1 in 4) identify as having a disability, yet the percentage of housing that is accessible has stayed stagnant at less than 3% for over two decades. What steps will you take to make sure that builders and remodelers of housing affordable to households with low-incomes expand accessibility?
We need to look at whether incentives to build accessible housing are adequate, and strengthen/broaden policies that require accessibility when structures are renovated and for new construction.
3.)It has been documented that Cincinnati is short of 28,000affordable homes. This 28,000 figure is specific to housing affordable to those of us at the bottom of the economic ladder, making around $18,000 a year or less, roughly Ohio's minimum. What new city legislation would you support or champion as a council member that would ensure more affordable housing is available to Cincinnati households at this level, where the need is greatest? What would this new legislation do?
We need to incentivize affordable housing at multiple income levels including 30 percent AMI. The city’s affordable housing trust fund, currently funded with $50 million, can provide funds to renovate some of the cities’ inventory of vacant buildings, and provide lower interest loans for new affordable housing construction. Municipal benefits such as tax abatements, TIFs, and density waivers can be used to incentivize more affordable housing developments.
4.)About 50 Cincinnati families are now being evicted from their homes daily, and many more are effectively evicted when landlords raise rents and refuse to renew leases. Pay-to-Stay housing protections allow for families who are being evicted for non-payment of rent to pay all owed rent and to stay in their home. Will you push, in earnest, for housing protections? What additional city legislation will you pursue to curb, on a meaningful scale, Cincinnati’s massive crisis of eviction and displacement?
We had a temporary pay to stay ordinance. Now is the time to bring organizations representing tenants and organizations representing landlords to the table to create a permanent pay to stay ordinance that is a win-win for both.