Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Housing policies proposed

Report draws praise and criticism

By Gregory Korte
Enquirer staff writer

Cincinnati City Council members lauded the final report on its first-ever comprehensive regional housing policy Tuesday night, but skeptics said it didn't go far enough to increase homeownership and reduce subsidized housing.

The Housing Advisory Council's recommendations include education for first-time homeowners, better relationships with landlords, and the use of city money to help acquire new sites for subsidized housing in affluent neighborhoods.

Some West Side residents told the council's Neighborhood and Public Works Committee Tuesday night in College Hill that the report doesn't tell them anything they didn't already know.

"I don't like anything about the Housing Advisory Council recommendations, except the ones about education and enforcement. Those are great," said Jim McNulty of Westwood, president of the newly formed Cincinnati Homeowners Association. "But as you already know, we have scads of programs to deal with those."

Bob Ludwig of College Hill said the problem is with federal policies that make it far more profitable for landlords to accept Section 8 vouchers than to rent the property at market rates.

"What we're really looking at is the failure of the whole (Housing and Urban Development) program. It is far too generous. It is a disincentive for people to own a home," he said.

The Housing Advisory Council came out of a 2003 dispute between the city and the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority over the planned demolition of the English Woods apartment complex. English Woods residents didn't want to move, and joined forces with West Side homeowners worried about another influx of subsidized housing vouchers.

After the city used its leverage with U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot to hold up federal approval for the demolition plan, the housing authority agreed to work with the city on ways to accommodate low-income housing and still pursue the city's policy of home ownership.

Neighborhood Committee Chairwoman Laketa Cole said the report is an improvement over previous drafts, which called for more city spending for affordable housing. "I'm not giving CMHA one red cent," she said.

She said the report would go to the full council for approval in two weeks.


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