Reggie Harris 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?
In 1972 my grandmother bought a house on the south side of Chicago while on a fixed income because of a now-defunct HUD program. Because of this, my family, despite facing economic instability, had housing security for generations that saved many of us from homelessness.
This experience informed my campaign’s housing-first approach and my belief that housing is absolutely a universal human right. Through my work as a social worker and in affordable housing, I have witnessed my clients struggle with housing insecurity constantly. My professional role has been not just to help them find housing resources, but also access to jobs, healthy food, transportation, healthcare, and education. Recently, for example, I led a project to put a grocery store in the Avondale Town Center, eliminating it as a food desert for the first time in over a decade. On council, I plan to both expand the affordable housing stock AND make sure that low-income residents have the resources they need to live successful, healthy lives.
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?
I would like to both expand the stock of accessible housing as well as provide resources to help existing homeowners make their housing more accessible. This means we must attach requirements for accessibility to all housing projects that receive city money and utilize creative grants and loan projects for existing residents to renovate their homes.
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 would emphasize investment in CMHA through eliminating building fees and supporting infrastructure costs, as the CMHA is the public entity that is best positioned to maintain and develop housing affordable to those making $18,000 a year or less. Then, we can incentivize private developers to partner with CMHA to increase the number of affordable units in projects across the city. Doing so will ensure that the projects are well-managed, in compliance with federal, state, and local laws, as well as, attached to resident services. Resident services are a crucial component in affordable housing development as they provide supports for resident stability and economic mobility.
In addition, we must create the conditions for more naturally affordable housing to be created to free up price brackets for other affordable units. We can do this through zoning reform, legalizing additional dwelling units, creating density and height bonuses in exchange for affordable units in development, and other density-incentivizing tactics.
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 support pay-to-stay housing protections as well as fully supporting our housing court. Nobody should go to court without representation and nobody should be forcibly removed from their home if they have the ability to pay.. It should be a requirement that preventative services be exhausted before an eviction occurs.
As part of my commitment to homeownership, I believe that someone who has proven the ability to pay rent for 10+ years should be able to own the home they live in.