Monday, October 22, 2001

Council could pass home subsidy plan

Goal: Spread out low-income housing

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati City Council appears to have the votes to pass a plan to limit new low-income housing in “overly impacted” neighborhoods.

        The proposal — which will get a second reading this week — would earmark city housing money for projects and programs that would not add to the concentration of subsidized housing in the inner city. With six solid votes in favor — but not the seven necessary to suspend the rules — the ordinance will likely pass next week.

        But at least half of the 26 city council candidates running for election Nov. 6 oppose the plan.

  The Enquirer asked candidates for Cincinnati City Council where they stand on the proposed “housing impaction” ordinance that would impose a moratorium on city support for new low-income housing projects. Twenty-four candidates responded (incumbents in italics):
  Generally support
John Cranley (D)
David Crowley (D)
  Dawn Denno (C)
  Pat DeWine (R)
Akiva Freeman (D)
  Chris Monzel (R)
David Pepper (D)
  Jim Tarbell (C)

Jane Anderson (D)
  Ken Anderson (I)
  Toni Andrews (I)
  Lawra Baumann (D)
  Paul Booth (D)
Laketa Cole (I)
  Minette Cooper (D)
Wes Flinn (I)
  Nate Livingston Jr. (I)
  Sam Malone (R)
  Alicia Reece (D)
John Schlagetter (C)
  Todd Ward (R)
  Clarence D. Williams III (I)
Tom Jones (R)
  Eric Wilson (I)
        The ordinance, written by Democratic Councilman John Cranley, would divert federal housing funds away from new construction and toward alternatives — such as down-payment assistance, lead abatement and emergency foreclosure aid.

        Rarely does city council take on housing policy in such a broad stroke as Mr. Cranley's ordinance, and therefore it has become a defining issue on the campaign trail.

        Proponents — like Mayor Charlie Luken — say the ordinance would help stabilize neighborhoods like Westwood, Price Hill and College Hill, which have seen dramatic increases in subsidized housing in the past decade.

        But critics say Mr. Cranley's plan is too simplistic, and would limit affordable housing opportuni ties for the poor.

        “Until and unless you have a plan in place where you make sure you have the housing available elsewhere, you're telling the community, "You're out of luck,'” said Jane Anderson, a Democratic candidate for city council. “And that's unacceptable.”

        Toni Andrews, an independent candidate, lived in low-income housing for six years. She said the city needs to build more affordable housing to make up for the units being demolished in Over-the-Rhine and the West End.

        “Most people of lower socioeconomic status prefer to live in the central city because of social reasons and transportation,” she said. “My job at the time was in the city, my family was in the city, my friends were in the city.”

        Akiva Freeman, a Democrat who has worked for the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, said he supports the goal of reducing the concentration of poverty in the inner city.

        “A glut of anything is not a good thing,” he said. “If you see the person next door to you doesn't have anything more than you do, you don't aspire to anything more.”


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