Port Short: Affordable Housing Part I

The Port and its managed entities, the Landbank and the HURC, address the affordable housing challenge in multiple ways. This includes increasing quality, move-in ready housing stock across a range of price points, critical to keeping housing affordable to provide opportunities for homeownership and wealth creation.

"Home prices have jumped nearly 20% since this time last year."

"The cost of rent is really through the roof."

"There just aren't enough places to live for the number of people here."

Across the country, the affordable housing crisis is a mainstay in the headlines. The common theme? There is simply not enough quality affordable housing to meet the need.

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, commonly known as HUD, defines an affordable dwelling as one that can be lived in for 30% or less of the tenant's annual income. In Hamilton County, for every 100 of the lowest income households, there are only 28 units of housing that are both affordable and available. 21% of homeowners and 47% of renters are cost-burdened by the cost of their housing, paying more than 30% of their income toward housing.

The Port plays an integral role in creating affordable housing in Hamilton County. From LIHTC apartment financing to new home construction, job creation, and down payment assistance, The Port is making an impact across a broad spectrum of affordable housing.

"The need isn't just around housing, but it's around all of the factors that influence our housing market, and I think it's important for us to be able to think about our response that comprehensively." - Reggie Harris, City of Cincinnati Councilmember

"We understand that affordable housing can't be looked at in a vacuum. We actually need housing across the whole spectrum - anywhere from subsidized housing to market rate. We also know it's an income problem, and we have programs both in industrial and commercial that are creating higher paid jobs." - Bill Fischer, Vice President of Community Development, The Port

The Port's public finance practice supports the development and preservation of affordable housing by bringing financing for projects such as Blair Lofts, Colonial Village, and Warsaw Creative Campus.

Communities First Ohio, The Port's statewide down payment grant program, helps mitigate a major barrier for individuals and families buying a home by providing a down payment of up to five% of the property's cost.

The Port's single-family home rehab and construction programs provide new homes across a range of price points from affordable to market rate.

Its industrial strategy also plays a role in The Port's affordable housing work. Attracting advanced manufacturing businesses with high-paying jobs is critical to supporting a family's stability.

And The Port's commercial business district efforts work to ensure the business corridors and districts in our neighborhoods are filled with renovated buildings, local entrepreneurs, and businesses to improve residential quality of life.

"So the neighborhood business districts which really make up the heart of the community that's where you can get the most density for residential, but it also provides the services and jobs that these neighborhoods need." - Bill Fischer, Vice President of Community Development, The Port

Recently, The Port launched an unprecedented affordable housing initiative to acquire 194 single-family homes from an out-of-town investor with the intention of helping current tenants become owners of their home.

"To our knowledge, this has not been attempted on the scale anywhere else... But i think the fact that the Port Authority is willing to take these risks just shows how concerned they are about this influx of single-family rental investors." - Konrad Putzier, Reporter, Wall Street Journal

At the same time, with funding from the City of Cincinnati and the American Rescue Plan Act, The Port will be ramping up construction of new single-family homes on currently vacant lots.

"And then we can also set a plan and set a strategy and work with our partners at The Port, work with our partners at the county, to think about defining our roles in solving this problem." - Reggie Harris, City of Cincinnati Councilmember

Meanwhile, The Port's work does not take place in isolation. Its work is just one part of a regional ecosystem including neighborhood partners focused on the challenge of housing affordability in our region. Solving the affordable housing crisis is crucial for the continued growth of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. It's vitally important for thousands of families in our region facing rising costs of living and housing instability. And it's an opportunity for affordable housing advocates to put Cincinnati on the map with breakthrough solutions to this nationwide challenge.

In part two of our series on affordable housing, we'll hear from some residents who are most impacted by the lack of affordable housing options in our region.