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?
Yeah, I believe that we should definitely dedicate some money every year to affordable housing. I don't know if $50 million is the right number. I think that we need to look a little deeper to figure out what would be a more workable number on a yearly basis. And whatever number we decide is the correct number, we have to make sure that council does not deviate from that support on an annual basis. I believe that's how we can get some resolution in regards to the affordable housing issue. So I'm for coming up with some numbers, I just don't have the expertise at this particular time to determine what is the right number. So once I get a better understanding of what is the right number, I'm all supportive of making sure that we have a dedicated fund, and that we get our fund in line with some of the other cities that I've heard have a fund that is working and solving the problem of affordable housing.
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 that we should do whatever we can to support affordable housing. And if it's tying some of the incentives to increase the affordable housing, then we should promote that. Also, I think that from what I sponsor, I'm trying to be direct to the actual question here. Would I sponsor an ordinance that would include affordable housing and prevailing wage jobs in order for developers to be awarded that? I'm not completely sure where I stand on that at this point. I do believe that, you know, as I said, I would promote affordable housing at all aspects that I could, but to exclude development if it did not include affordable housing and prevailing wage jobs,I would have to look at really how it's impacted the other cities that you indicated at the beginning of the question that are doing this exclusively. If that's what the question is, that it's exclusive. I don't believe that would be the right approach. I think that the city has to work a lot harder to get developers to include affordable housing, and whatever they do, the city also has to work harder to develop affordable housing on its own accord. The city has enough housing stock out there that the city should engage in its own process. I've worked for the city for many years. There are a lot of dedicated employees there. I would even explore the city taking its own property stock and developing housing that way. Like a housing unit, for instance, where the city could better control the affordability, access and what's going on with it. That's how we have to look at this. But I would not necessarily adopt an ordinance that would say that it's got to be this way and no one else could get an incentive if affordable housing is not included in everything. I just wouldn't do that. I don't think it would be fiscally responsible.
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?
Yeah, I mean, I strongly believe that we have to. We don't want to be known as one of the 10 most segregated cities in America. That's a shame that that exists, and that is how some folks out there in the world know us. We have to do better, and how can we do better? I think that any policy that helps with affordable housing is going to help out black folks regardless, because the majority of folks who fall in that category of needing affordable housing and have issues as it relates to income, happen to be African American. So we have to pull a whole segment of both black and brown folks up to where we can get to some sense of at least a living wage, which the city can help promote, throughout, and encourage more private individuals to do that, with affordable housing. As it relates to how we can get more black folks into wealthier communities, again, if there are opportunities for the city, itself, to develop some of its own properties in those areas, that's one way of doing it. I also think that some of the zoning restrictions in some of those areas have to be looked at, and redefined so that it's possible for more density to occur, which might open up some of those areas for more minorities to go and rent in those areas. A lot of it also is just, we have to start talking to each other, as a community, about how we fix our racial problems. A lot of our racial problems stem from the fact that we've never lived with anyone who does not look like us as a neighbor. We have to stop that. So some of it’s dialogue, but a lot of it is, from an affordable housing perspective, we just have to keep making opportunities where banks don't discriminate against renters, or people who want to buy houses.