City of Cincinnati announces funding for affordable housing in multiple neighborhoods

The city of Cincinnati today announced five projects, including some with more than 90 units of affordable housing, that will receive federal and city financing.

click to enlarge 509 East 12th Street in Pendleton will undergo a complete renovation for affordable housing using funds from the city's NOFA program. - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
509 East 12th Street in Pendleton will undergo a complete renovation for affordable housing using funds from the city's NOFA program.

City of Cincinnati officials today announced $2.5 million in funding for five projects around the city that will create a number of new affordable housing units.

Those projects will receive money from various federal programs through the Notice of Funding Availability program, a competitive process in which developers submit bids for financing covering up to 40 percent of their project’s costs.

The city’s Department of Community and Economic Development picked the winning projects located in Walnut Hills, Pendleton, Over-the-Rhine, Avondale and Madisonville.

All together, those projects will have 107 units of housing, with 86 percent of those units affordable to those making 60 percent of the region’s area median income. That means a family of four making roughly $46,000 a year would have to spend no more than 30 percent of their income on those units. Some of the units in the project will be more affordable, down to 30 percent of AMI.

The funding comes as Cincinnati and Hamilton County face a big gap in housing affordability. A 2017 study by LISC and the Community Building Institute found that there are roughly 91,000 households in the county making less than 50 percent of the area median income, but there are only 52,000 units of housing affordable to them. The situation gets more dire the further down the income spectrum you go, including levels lower than those addressed by the projects announced by the city. There are more than 55,000 families making less than 30 percent of AMI in the county but only 15,000 units affordable to them, the LISC study found.

Many of DCED's picks are in neighborhoods that have struggled to maintain affordable housing as real estate prices and development interest have soared.

The city is making affordability an increasing priority, officials say. During the last round of NOFA funding, 80 percent of units funded were affordable on some level. 

“Over time, I think if you look at our NOFA award projects, they’re getting more affordable, that is, a higher percentage are affordable units, and they’re getting more deeply affordable at lower percentages of AMI,” DCED Director Phil Denning said. "That shows our response to our community’s growing needs for affordable housing.”

The specific projects the city will fund:

The Walnut Hills Senior Campus in Walnut Hills, which involves the renovation of two vacant buildings and construction of a third. The result will be 60 affordable, LEED-certified housing units for local seniors. The project will be led by Model Group and Episcopal Retirement Service. That project will be funded by both federal HOME and Community Development Block Grant funds. As interest in Walnut Hills has grown, some residents there, including elderly ones, have struggled to keep their housing, a January CityBeat report found.

15th and Vine in Over-the-Rhine, which will build 32 affordable housing units and 7,000 square feet of first-floor commercial space. The project is a partnership between Over-the-Rhine Community Housing and the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation. It will receive HOME funding. Some low-income residents in that neighborhood have also experienced difficulty with rising prices and increased real estate interest.

•  A scattered-site project in Madisonville that will build five new homes spread across five vacant lots. Each home will feature three bedrooms and a two-car garage. Madisonville Community Urban Redevelopment Corp. and Titan Builders have teamed up for the project, which will receive funding from the city.

Another scattered-site project in Avondale featuring custom modular homes. That project involves three plots of land on Bogart Avenue and one on Glenwood Avenue. All the homes will have two levels and feature either two or three bedrooms. Avondale Development Corp. and Unibuilt Custom Homes are building that project, which will receive city funding.

Complete renovation of two currently distressed historic residential buildings at 509 East 12th Street in Pendleton. Both buildings will have three one- and two-bedroom units. The project will be led by 8K Development Co. and will receive Community Development Block Grant funding.

“Any of us in this room could be in a situation where we need affordable housing,” Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman said during the funding announcement today.  “So we really have to keep our eye on that ball. If it’s not one of us, it’s our grandmother or grandfather, or it’s one of our siblings, or our uncle or our aunt. Making sure people have really solid housing that has dignity is incredibly important to the structure of all 52 of our neighborhoods.”

The city will award another $2.4 million in NOFA funds later this year. Denning says the city hopes to focus on mixed-income projects, especially ones that utilize federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, in that round of funding. The city is hosting an information session for interested developers July 10.

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