Friday, December 13, 2002

City housing development fund supported



By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A proposed $100 million housing development fund could help build 5,000 new and rehabilitated units in Cincinnati over 10 years, City Council members say.

Councilman Pat DeWine has proposed the fund, which would commit $15 million of the city's "neighborhood investment reserve" to a revolving loan fund. The remaining $85 million would come from area banks.

Two lenders - Provident Bank and U.S. Bank - have already committed about $20 million apiece to the fund. Fifth Third Bank, Key Bank and Huntington Bank have expressed "strong interest," Mr. DeWine said.

"You have a city that's dying for new investment and capital. This is one fundamentally important need," Mr. DeWine said. "There's a lot of people in this city who want to do great things, and who have the ability to do great things, but don't have the capital."

The fund would provide construction loans for new or rehabilitated housing units - for ownership or rental - at or below the prime rate. Over 10 years, the fund would turn over several times, resulting in $250 million or more in investment, supporters said.

The program would be run through the Cincinnati Development Fund; and bankers, not city officials, would decide who gets loans.

Bob Alexander, vice president of Provident Bank, said the city contribution would allow the banks to finance projects that ordinarily wouldn't qualify.

"It puts the banks in a position where they're better secured, and the city has a high potential to get its investment back, too," he said.

Mr. DeWine's is the first proposal for how to spend the remainder of the city's $55 million windfall from the sale of Anthem Inc. stock. The funding would come out of a $27 million neighborhood reserve proposed by Mayor Charlie Luken.

With Democrats John Cranley and Alicia Reece joining Republican DeWine as co-sponsors, the plan seems to have a broad base of support.

Mr. Cranley called it a "model" for how the city should use the Anthem money for capital investment.

Ms. Reece called it a "pro-growth" policy that would expand the kinds of loan programs available in Over-the-Rhine and downtown into "at-risk" neighborhoods such as College Hill, Bond Hill, Evanston and Price Hill.

Mr. Luken supports the DeWine plan.

"I think it's a good idea. Is it enough? Is it going to be used?" he said. "The only question I have with it is that I want to make sure there's a market for the funds."

If approved, loans could be made as early as Feb. 1, Mr. DeWine said.

E-mail gkorte@enquirer.com




TOP STORIES
Owners circle the wagons to protect their equine friends
Reading scores up slightly
Lawmakers stay course on school fund setup
Finan: Taft may have to cut increases for schools

IN THE TRISTATE
City housing development fund supported
Obituary: Clifford Whigham, gym owner
City's planning director resigning amid breakup
Police narrowly OK 2-year contract
On sale: Chance to blow up stadium
Blue Ash planning documents available for public inspection
English Woods demolition on
Health officials prepare for smallpox vaccinations
Tristate A.M. Report

ENQUIRER COLUMNISTS
BRONSON: Schools case
SMITH-AMOS: From the heart
HOWARD: Some Good News
WELLS: Trent Lott

BUTLER, WARREN, CLERMONT
Cox Road finally loses hated array of barrels
We want to talk to you, Fairfield
Grant deal aids Mercantile repairs

OHIO
Slain priest returns in coffin to church he served
Dayton urged to keep sirens
Passing car badly hurts trooper at crash site

KENTUCKY
NKU, others brace for cutback
Fuel-oil tanker collapses bridge
Henrys expecting 2nd child
Animal case cost Kenton $30K
N.Ky. to hire coordinator in case of biological attack
Community protests adult book stores
Conner's nursing home just about out of money; could close soon
No drugs found in home of man killed in cuffs
Former Lexington bishop moving to new Ky. location