Michelle Dillingham 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?
My personal experience is that I worked at a homeless shelter as a very young person while still in high school, responsible for intakes. Later in life, I became homeless myself. As a young mother of a special needs son, I was fortunate enough to be eligible for the Section 8 Housing Voucher, and benefitted from that program until I earned enough of a salary to eventually rent market-rate housing. Later in my career I became the Director of Education at the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless, and I also worked for the Affordable Housing Advocates organization. Finally I became CEO of Community Shares of Greater Cincinnati, helping organizations that serve people who are homeless to raise critically needed funding.
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?
Local government can do a lot to incentivize and/or mandate inclusion of accessible units of housing. We need people elected to City Council who will have the political will to prioritize policies like these. As a mother of a now adult son with a significant motor disability I am well aware of the barriers to independent living that exist due to a lack of accessible, affordable housing in our City, and will work to right-size these unacceptable percentages.
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?
I will recommend to the next Mayor that “Housing” be a stand-alone committee of City Council wherein we can take up all the recommendations from the years of studies and policy work groups that have already offered up solutions to fix the affordable housing crisis, from the Property Tax Workgroup, to the Homeless Coalition’s work on Tenant Rights, Anti-Displacement, etc. Housing, and how the City subsidizes housing, will be a top priority from the office of Councilmember Dillingham.
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?
Yes I will push in earnest for housing protections. I will form a workgroup made up of affordable housing experts and staff from the City Administration to formulate actionable and immediate legislation to curb this unacceptable crisis.