Victoria Parks 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?
When I left the Air Force at 22 as a single mother, homelessness was an ever present fear. Fortunately, I had a large and loving family and was able to find shelter with them. However, this initial fear has stayed with me throughout the years and always reminded me why accessible affordable housing is so crucial. While safety and shelter are a human right, the reality of our system is that - whether you or I believe it is right or not - nobody gets to live for free... however, America being as wealthy of a country as it is, there is absolutely no reason that someone who wants to work and is able to work should not be able to secure safe and affordable housing. This will be a priority of this next City Council.
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 believe the city needs to write into policy that for all future City contracts accessibility is a guaranteed standard and we should codify the ADA at a local level as well. All Cincinnati Accessibility Board of Advisors (CABA) that City Council confirms must pledge to pursue accessible housing in future developments..
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 need to ensure that all future development contracts and Community Benefit Agreements (CBAs) include a certain percentage of new housing stock be affordable to people at the lowest income level. I will continue to pursue a regional solution by bringing Hamilton County, the City, business leaders, and community leaders and representatives to the table to work towards a solution. I have the relationships and coalition-building skills to do this, because I have served at the county and have been an active community advocate for years.
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?
As Hamilton County Commissioner, I ensured that nearly $50 Million of CARES Act funding were designated towards renters assistance and utility assistance through the Hamilton County Rent and Utility Program. These funds supported people who had lost their jobs and ensured they were not evicted. Too often the people most in need of assistance can not access the help they need due to long working hours, difficult transportation routes, language barriers, or a lack of knowledge that these resources even exist. We must break down these barriers to improve accessibility and ensure affordable housing resources reach the community.