Writer: Jerrica DuBois
2 min read April 2022 — Amid a nationwide affordable housing crisis, public and private entities within the Greater Cincinnati region are tackling the issue head-on.
According to the LISC, the Greater Cincinnati region is short about 40,000 affordable housing unitsopens PDF file . In Hamilton County, extremely low income households could spend up to 50% or more of their income on housing, making it difficult to pay for other essential expenses such as food and transportation.
There are several organizations or initiatives that have looked to become a part of the solution. The Cincinnati Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which was created over three years ago, has taken the charge of securing funds for affordable housing in the region. However, it was not until last month that a funding source dedicated to the trust fund was identified. City Council recently approved a measure that would allow excess funds to be funneled into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund at the end of each fiscal year. The council also recently approved a $5 million, one-time boost to the fund.
Noting the correlation between the housing crisis and communities that are more vulnerable to health issues, Mercy Health stepped up during the pandemic to start helping those communities financially. The hospital helped pull together housing partners to provide housing assistance to these communities in need, including almost $250,000 in financial relief.
While providing money needed to avoid eviction and foreclosure may be a quick fix, one solution for the longer term is building more housing. Western & Southern Financial Group plans to invest millions into its Eagle Realty Group to develop and manage more high-quality housing. Though they are not sure how far the funds will stretch, Western & Southern wants to do their part in creating additional housing opportunities for Cincinnati residents, modeled after what Eagle Realty produced with Brackett Village in Over-the-Rhine.
The housing crisis also caused Cincinnati’s Port Authority to go on the offensive. In January of 2022, the authority outbid 12 real estate investors for ownership of nearly 200 single-family homes. The city, now the landlord of these homes, will rent these properties at more affordable price points than the private sector. The end result is for these renters to eventually become the owners. In 2021, 15% of homes purchased in Cincinnati were from corporations, companies or wealthy individuals for the purpose of renting or flipping the property.
Despite all of the challenges, the Greater Cincinnati area is still considered one of the most affordable housing markets in the world. The Queen City ranked No. 7opens PDF file in housing affordability (tied with Glasgow, Scotland) in a report recently released by the Urban Reform Institute and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.