Saturday, July 22, 2000

Commission wants home funds cut off

Over-the-Rhine affected

By Ken Alltucker
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Cincinnati Planning Commission on Friday recommended cutting off all funding for low-income housing projects in the heart of Over-the-Rhine until a master plan is developed for the neighborhood next year.

        The commission also voted to encourage funding of mixed-use housing in the neighborhood, which is dominated by low-income housing.

        The commission's vote dealt a serious blow to ReSTOC, a neighborhood group that buys and fixes up homes for the poor, though City Council has the final say on funding.

        “I don't think it was a good decision at all,” said Jennifer Summers, coordinator for ReSTOC. “I don't think it's a good idea by the city to turn away funding in a neighborhood like Over-the-Rhine.”

        Cincinnati City Councilman James Tarbell said the vote is the first step toward opening up the inner-city neighborhood to market-rate housing. “It went exactly as I hoped,” said Mr. Tarbell, who proposed the motion.

Vote applies to Vine Street
        The commission's vote applies to low-income housing on Vine Street. Last month, ReSTOC asked City Council to approve $700,000 in funding to rehabilitate eight homes on or near Vine Street for low-income housing. The funding request failed following a 4-4 vote. Councilman Charlie Winburn was absent.

Lobbying will continue
        Ms. Summers said she isn't bothered by the planning commission vote and will continue to lobby council members in an effort to get the funding approved.

        She said the group isn't interested in a compromise proposal offered by Mr. Winburn. He wants the city to give ReSTOC money if the nonprofit group agrees to fix up all its homes within a year and rent some at market rates.

        Mr. Winburn's offer comes after some council members accused the group of buying a lot of homes and fixing very few as part of a strategy to block private developers from acquiring, rehabilitating and selling homes at market rates that the poor can't afford.

        The group denies the strategy but acknowledges it's concerned that Mr. Winburn's market-rate housing proposal would hurt the poor in Over-the-Rhine.

        “We're talking about people who can't afford market-rate homes,” said Bobby Briggs, director of the group's Drop-Inn Center.


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