By Joshua Botkin
Cincinnati City Council committed to $35.5 million investment in affordable housing, only a couple months after they spoke highly against a $50 million Affordable Housing Trust Fund meant to appear on May 4 ballot.
The $50 million annual Affordable Housing Trust Fund was debated against it if it reached the ballot at a City Council meeting on February 24, 2021. The proposal was said to lead to 100’s to 1,000’s of public employees being laid off to afford it if passed.
City Council member Greg Landsman told of some of the possible effects if the $50 million Affordable Housing Trust Fund amendment gets passed, “Rec centers closing… nurses in the middle of a pandemic, or us coming out of a pandemic, having to be laid off. We’re talking about picking up your garbage every other week, or once a month.”
Affordable Housing has been a key issue and focus for members of Cincinnati City Council. A recently proposed charter amendment was in hopes of solving this problem by setting aside $50 million a year for affordable housing.
“It’s absolutely a better option,” said City Council member Steve Goodin, according to WCPO 9. “And it’s something, frankly, that was already in the works before Issue 3 (the $50 million proposal) made the ballot.”
The City Council felt their $35.5 million affordable housing plan was better suited than its rival $50 million annual affordable housing plan to be funded by the city government. The $35.5 million plan consists of $34 million from the City’s Community Development Block Grant, $1.5 million from the city, and hopes of raising additional $30 million from donations, totally possible $65 million.
“If it were to pass it would be hellish for the people of Cincinnati, and massive layoffs to our police, fire, public services, sanitation and etc.” says Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley in regard to the proposed $50 million housing plan.
Cranley gives respect to the people who proposed the amendment, understanding the time it takes to get signatures and the good intentions of what the amendment was trying to accomplish, but doesn’t.
Legal issues were also brought up about how the amendment is structured, not written clearly enough to fully understand the whole amendment.
One city council member brought up an issue about not educating the public enough on this amendment. If the amendment was on the ballot, it’s box on the ballot doesn’t say anything to voters about how it’s supporting the $50 million needed to fund it.
Mayor Cranley encouraged the next mayor to take a position on the amendment, and, if they support it, be prepared to explain how many public workers they will lay off to pay for it.
If the $50 million plan were to pass, it would not cancel out the other $35.5 million plan. Meaning both could be put into effect and would cost the city a total of $51.5 million between the two affordable housing amendments.
Executive Director of Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition Josh Spring, with the $50 million Affordable Housing campaign, said the announcement of the City Council commitment to the $35.5 million Affordable Housing plan is a distraction and an attempt to get people to vote against the charter amendment, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The $50 million Affordable Housing amendment would be a yearly requirement of the city to direct $50 million at helping build housing for Cincinnati’s poorest residents, with no end date. The $35 million committed plan by the City Council is only one time payment.