Our country is facing an affordable housing crisis that is affecting income levels across the spectrum.
An individual working 40 hours per week at minimum wage cannot afford a modest two-bedroom apartment in any county nationwide. Two-thirds of renters across the U.S. say they cannot afford to purchase a home or set aside the savings needed for a down payment on one. And 1 of every 3 Cincinnati residents, or about 88,000 people, struggle to pay their rent each month.
Nationally the gap between income and home value has been widening, as home pricing are rising faster than wages in 80% of U.S. markets. College tuition prices have multiplied over 2.5 times the cost that students incurred in 1964*. Healthcare spending has increased over 31 time since 1970*. And while inflation continues to rise, the federal minimum wage has not increased in 12 years.
As a result, after paying taxes, living expenses, healthcare costs, and rent, the working class has very little to set aside for home savings or an emergency. This forces residents to stay in rentals for years and prevents them from accumulating any investment in their property or eventually owning their own home.
The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless has cited that Hamilton County has a shortage of more than 40,000 affordable homes. Although Lower Price Hill currently has a 40% vacancy rate, most of these buildings have been vacant for 15-20 years. High costs of maintenance and renovations prevent them from being occupiable without large investments from the city and state.
In the Lower Price Hill (LPH) area of Cincinnati almost 87% of children live in poverty and the average household income is only $15,000. These families cannot earn the minimum amount needed for an affordable two-bedroom rental unit, let alone pay for food, clothes, medical care, and other basic necessities. Since the majority of schools are funded by property taxes, children living in LPH attend underfunded schools where classrooms are crowded, teachers are underpaid, and extracurricular activities are out of reach. Disadvantaged kids are more likely to drop out of high school, raise their own children in poverty, have more chronic illnesses, and overall fewer opportunities for advancement over their lifetimes.
Projects like the Willkommen Project in Over-The-Rhine (OTR) and Lower Price Hill Thrives aim to help families obtain affordable housing. Instead of building Section 8 housing, these projects renovate vacant buildings into residential areas with inclusionary units, where a portion of units are created to be affordable to lower and middle income families. Sadly, these projects can still take years to get all the approvals and city/state loans needed to move forward.
Even if successful, these projects contribute to gentrification that displaces current residents. As the newly renovated location becomes more desirable to affluent non-residents, the costs of rent and living increase to the point where current residents can no longer afford to live there. Over the past decade we've witnessed this in OTR, where 3CDC, a non-profit real estate development company, invested more than half a billion dollars into the city to rescue 131 historic buildings and construct 48 new ones. While OTR’s revival can be seen as a great success for the city of Cincinnati, it can also be seen as a failure to support the many tenants who can no longer afford the place they've always called home.
This is the premise of our need for affordable housing. It's not just a problem in Cincinnati, it's a problem across our country.
*amounts have been adjusted for inflation
Vote for Universal Rent Control nationwide
Support large investments in creating new affordable housing for low- and middle-income families that provides communities with stability in economic downturns
Strengthen housing opportunities for citizens reentering society from incarceration
Increase programs that improve economic mobility and fight stagnating wages so more Ohioans can afford their homes and have access to better education
As Your Congresswoman Savanna will:
About Savanna's Platform
"I am fighting for every American to have access to affordable, quality health care; to advance criminal justice reform; to demand equality for LGBTQ+ and Black communities; to support our aging population; to lower taxes for working families and small businesses; to raise taxes on the ultra-rich and large corporations; to accelerate pathways to citizenship for immigrants; to address our climate crisis; to bring new jobs and industries to the economy; to make affordable housing a right; to provide higher education to all; to give the public a louder voice than special interests."