Phillip O’Neal Forum Full Responses
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 absolutely affordable housing is key, I think it is at the top of my list, honestly, in the city of Cincinnati now. I think it's vital for us moving forward, especially as a community. I think that affordable housing, affordable in your own home is key to bridging the generational gap in wealth. So I think that the budget can definitely be looked at for sure. Absolutely. I think the budget should be key to be looked at and adjusted every year to allocate certain things in certain ways. So absolutely, I believe in us generating more money to help out the affordable housing issue that we have, definitely want to work with Cincinnati housing here and bring you all to the table and make that happen. Because I think that's very democratic of us that we all sit down at the table, all invested stakeholders and fix this issue that we have in the city. For example, I own a home in Madisonville, my first home about 10 years ago, and the house was worth about $90,000. And now the house is almost worth $200,000. So it's great for me as a homeowner, but at the same time, to make things affordable in our city, for the people who actually own a home and at the same time those taxes on the people who have those homes, want to help those people out as well who have been there for so long. So I definitely want to bring you all to the table. Definitely want to sit down and make something happen for our city. Absolutely. So thank you.
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'm definitely down to push out an ordinance that's going to help affordable housing. And at the same time, I'd definitely be creative with the tax abatements to make it beneficial to our communities. That's going to protect them, and it's going to help improve their lives, ultimately. So we don't want to let what happened in OTR happen again, where there was a certain amount of people at one time, and then four years later, they're all gone. You know, so where did those people go? So let's be able to protect them around their housing and how we can be creative to support those people and their communities. Like I used to live in Madisonville, so going down Madison, and knocking on people's houses right now, they feel like they're getting pushed out. Like some of those people are feeling like what happened in OTR is going to happen to them. And it's almost like they're getting pushed out of their neighborhood. So how are we making people that have been in their neighborhoods for so long, and make them feel like they're being displaced? Like that's, that's a horrible feeling to have. So we don't want that to happen to our people. We want them to voice their opinions, we want them to be included in conversations, and we want them to have a say in what happens in their city. So I'm definitely down with being creative with the tax abatements that can be pushed behind our communities, and then making a metric system. I think the issue is we don't have too many systems in place that can support different things. We're kind of just like, Oh, this is what happens when the private people are doing certain things, or this is what happens here, and this is what’s going on here. We need to set up systems in place. Because you know, men lie, women lie, but numbers don't. So let's get the numbers, let’s lay them down, let’s figure out exactly what we need to do, and say this is how we're going to support everybody. Including people who feel like they're being displaced and including people who live in their communities and protecting those people. So that's what I agree upon.
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 would say that segregation was strategically set up, so we have to be strategic in dismantling it. And I think we definitely have to get access and resources and knowledge and money behind our communities. And I'm not saying like money as in let's build a brewery. Unfortunately, we're intentional in breweries because there are breweries popping up all over the place. You know, in every neighborhood, they want to put a brewery now. It's like, oh, that's how a neighborhood is up and coming because there's a brewery now, like, come on, let's be kind of realistic about this. Let's be real with our people about this. Let's put more resources behind those who have been there for so long. Let's put more resources behind people who have been in their homes or renting for so long. We have to be able to create protection around everybody. SoI'm definitely down with being strategic and dismantling segregation in our city, because who wants that label? I don't want that label. And it's not that I want to live in another neighborhood. I live in Avondale now and I love Avondale. I'm not trying to go anywhere else right now, I settled my family there and that's where we want to be and that's where I want to stay. So let me feel good in Avondale. Let my people feel good in Avondale. Let’s set up the correct legislature, set up the correct ordinances that make people feel good, where they live and where they're from, and they don't have to go to another neighborhood for anything else. I think we'd definitely be strategic around that. I definitely want to be a part of making that happen.