Meeka Owens 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?
As a single mom, I know what is it like to experience housing insecurity. I spent time on CMHA's waiting list, only to find that the waiting list was years long, and that the quality of housing waiting for me on the other side was dismal. I do believe housing is a universal human right, and that we should always be advocating for equitable access to safe, affordable housing for everyone. The data shows, when we make significant investments in mothers who look like me, we will improve economic mobility, quality of life, and our city will succeed because of it.
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?
If elected, my role is to advocate for the basic right of housing to be fully accessible to all. I will produce legislation, and uplift policies that will immensely improve the state of accessible housing in Cincinnati, thus creating healthier and safer communities where all our neighbors have the opportunity to thrive. It should be simple - if we are developing affordable housing - It should absolutely be accessible. The policies we adopt to improve the state of housing in our city should include ADA compliance.
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 must bring forward legislation that brings stakeholders to the table, and adopts the strategies of the Housing Our Future Plan. We must take immediate action on zoning, and build long-term collaboration across council, the county, and the region. We must also ensure that when we are developing across our 52 neighborhoods, we are actually bringing neighbors to the table to help decide the future of each neighborhoods success.
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?
I will absolutely push for housing protections. We must pass a Just-Cause Evictions Ordinance, and support tenants rights organizations in our cities. In our strategy to solve the affordable housing crisis, we must include anti-displacement policies. We have to provide better access to information for all renters, and ensure landlords are protecting our neighbors. We must create a better environment for renters in this city - using renter equity models - especially when over half our city is renting.