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Stacey Smith Full Forum 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?


Yes, I absolutely believe that the city should allocate at least $50 million annually for as long as we need to. I don't think that our citizens can afford for us not to. And when you think about how the city and the US handles these types of crises, it doesn't make sense how the affordable housing crisis gets very little when, you know, money appears for like COVID-19 relief, which was absolutely needed, millions upon millions of dollars provided for the opioid epidemic, again needed. But the affordable housing crisis, which again, emphasis on the word crisis, I don't believe has received even a small bit, a small percentage of that. And when you look at statistics, I mean, per person who experiences chronic homelessness, the US government spends almost $36,000 annually in assistance programs, things of that nature. But we aren't willing to throw in 50 million per year to ensure that more and more and more of our citizens can be housed. It doesn't make sense to me. So I absolutely am for funding the affordable housing trust fund for as long as we need to, to get more of our citizens in homes. And with that, I will yield the rest of my time. 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 agree. I think that an ordinance, if need be, is much easier to go back and undo if needed, than it is to resolve an affordable housing crisis. And right now in Cincinnati, we're not experiencing a housing crisis in general, we have plenty of single family homes, we have plenty of properties for individuals who can afford the higher end condos and apartments. The deficit is in affordable housing units. So if I'm elected to Council, absolutely I would support these ordinances. I'll do everything that I can to decrease that deficit. That is of the utmost priority. And again, if years down the road, hopefully Cincinnati is not in the position that it is currently and we have a surplus of affordable housing units available to the public, and we find ourselves in need of higher end apartments and things like that again, absolutely, I think that ordinance can be undone. As far as the affordable housing units that are in place are permanently affordable and fair. I think there's a difference between affordable and fair. So I would support an ordinance that requires developers to include a certain percentage of affordable housing units in their developments. As far as those units are permanent, and fair. AndI would be fully supportive of that. And I would absolutely not support any displacement of current tenants. And I would agree with my colleague Evan Holt, that a Tenants’ Bill of Rights is needed to ensure the security for our citizens.


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 think first off, I am not interested in increasing access to wealthy neighborhoods. I'm interested in leveling the playing field. Not by bringing the wealthy neighborhoods down to a certain level but to elevate those neighborhoods that are not wealthy or impoverished to elevate them up. So I don't think that an individual should have to go to a whole different neighborhood to get their needs met, that all needs to be met within their own neighborhood. And that's not going to happen unless they are able to securely live there.I think that a tenants’ Bill of Rights is absolutely going to be one of the number one protections for black renters in Cincinnati. I honestly believe that could be the greatest protection for them. And so it's something that really needs to happen where, you know, by law, they are backed up against these rich developers or landlords who want to charge them too much, or things of that nature. So while this isn't something that I have actively, you know, campaigned on, because it's not necessarily something that's in my wheelhouse, educationally so to speak. I do think that that needs to be a number one priority for the incoming Cincinnati City Council.


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