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Home: A place of residence or refuge. A vital component to thrive, it’s increasingly beyond the reach of too many of our neighbors. In our metro area, a household must earn $17 per hour to afford a fair market rate two-bedroom apartment. Even with the increase of the Ohio minimum wage this year to $8.70, that translates to a single mother working two full-time minimum wage jobs to house her family. Adding to her challenge is the significant lack of affordable housing in Greater Cincinnati — we need more than 40,000 units, a number which continues to grow. It’s not a sustainable model for maximizing the potential of all our residents, and the burden is higher for both black renters and homeowners.
Affordable housing is a complex challenge that requires the commitment of all our community stakeholders. In alignment with our racial equity mission, Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) is advancing specific investments as well as systemic change. The dividend will be a stronger and more economically robust region for everyone.
The Affordable Housing Impact Investment Pool (AHIIP) is GCF’s strategy to shape a key piece of the larger puzzle. We’ve invested $1 million toward the $5 million targeted fund size to help bridge the affordable housing gap. The pool will be flexible and responsive to the projects it funds, including supporting home ownership options for low-income families, rental opportunities to build renters’ equity accounts and increasing the supply of high-quality rental units. Partnering with the Cincinnati Development Fund, we expect to grant the first loans from the fund this spring.
Join us in participating in AHIIP through your donor advised fund with a minimum investment of $10,000. AHIIP, open now, has a guaranteed return of 1 percent and carries up to a five-year term. You can also make a philanthropic gift to the fund; please contact your philanthropic advisor for further information. All contributions will be deployed on an ongoing basis to support a wide range of affordable housing initiatives.
On the systemic front, GCF has helped fund a broad collaboration of stakeholders — the Community-Wide Housing Strategy (CWHS) Committee — to generate a holistic affordable housing plan that leverages collective capacity. The strategy is to guide both philanthropic dollars and municipal policy to the greatest outcomes.
The CWHS Committee includes LISC Greater Cincinnati, City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County governments, The Port, Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, nonprofit housing organizations and developers. Its highly anticipated report, due to be released within the next few weeks, will focus on:
GCF is eager to learn from and implement the committee’s recommendations. We are grateful for your support to be able to sponsor this transformative work.
A place to call home. It’s a simple dream, but one that for all too many of our neighbors is a financial hardship. Affordable housing is a critical issue in our region, and Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) is committed to addressing it as we move into 2019 and beyond.
“Affordable” is defined as not paying more than 30 percent of one’s income for housing.
While median gross rent has increased 46 percent from 2000 to 2014, income has only increased 19 percent during that period. The result is that 30 percent of Hamilton County residents spend 50 to 60 percent of their income on housing, or nearly double the “affordable” range. There is a critical need for 40,000 affordable rental units for households making $14,678 or less, which is 30 percent of Hamilton County’s median income. Read Xavier University’s Community Building Institute report for further information about housing affordability issues in Cincinnati.
GCF is launching a new Affordable Housing Impact Investment Pool (AHIIP) early in 2019 to help bridge that daunting housing gap. We are contributing $1 million to our $5 million goal for this pool, and invite you to invest along with us to amplify its impact.
Details of the investment opportunity:
AHIIP projects will focus on the development of a range of affordable housing options throughout GCF’s eight-county region, encompassing Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Anticipated investments will include affordable rental units, home ownership units and such equity-building initiatives as Dividend Housing and Renter Equity.
GCF is offering you this opportunity to join us in this new venture to expand the imprint of various projects addressing this compelling community issue. We will likely determine the initial investments in the first quarter of 2019.
GCF has been a trusted community partner for 55 years, and we know that access to affordable housing is key to lifting people out of poverty. Housing instability impacts the health, work and education of families, and we believe that addressing this need will help to build a better community for all of us.
To become a partner in this transformative work, please contact your GCF philanthropic advisor.
Nearly 40 GCF donors and community partners joined us for a recent walking tour through Over-the-Rhine devoted to showcasing affordable housing strategies in action. The tour was conducted by Over-the-Rhine Community Housing (OTRCH), which has been driving empowerment for OTR residents through affordable housing for four decades, in part through support by Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) grants. In 2018, OTRCH provided affordable housing for 850 residents — 36 percent of which are children — in more than 410 OTR apartments.
GCF’s work with affordable housing initiatives isn’t new, but this year we are intensifying our focus on this critical component of economic stability. Throughout our region there is a critical need — particularly for those earning $15,000 or less a year — of 40,000 additional affordable housing units (with “affordable” defined as costing no more than 30 percent of income). Adding to the challenge: low-income wages have not kept up with housing cost increases.
GCF is determined to open more doors to such units through our Affordable Housing Impact Investment Pool (AHIIP), details of which will be announced in September.
As the holidays approach, more than 100 families in three inner-city Cincinnati neighborhoods have a stronger sense of housing stability in their lives, thanks in part to the 2017 expansion of a tenant advocacy program by Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) in three Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) elementary schools. Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF), in partnership with our donors, granted $40,000 to HOME’s Housing Stability Program for At Risk Students this past year and has been supporting it since 2014.
In those schools — Carson Elementary School, Oyler Community Learning Center and Roberts Paideia Academy — 125 families have received counseling on tenant rights and 76 were given financial assistance with housing bills to enable them to remain in their homes. We know that housing instability affects the health, work and education opportunities of families, and that half of the children in CPS schools change schools each year because of housing challenges.
Various studies have found that student mobility, especially multiple moves, can contribute to reduced engagement in school, poorer grades and a lower likelihood of graduating, and it is particularly hard on children in early grades. University of Chicago researcher David Kerbow found, in a study of 13,000 Chicago students, that those who had changed schools four or more times by sixth grade were nearly a year behind their classmates. As we reported in last month’s Amplify issue, higher eviction activity in our region over the past five years has increased the population of homeless families, which puts an even higher strain on their educational opportunities.
Parents who have participated in HOME’s school-based tenant advocacy program reported that they feel more empowered with the increased knowledge of their rights as tenants, and that they can now focus more of their energy on their children’s education. Since 2014, Carson Elementary School — the first school to participate in the program — has seen a 10 percent reduction in the student mobility rate, which helps to further educational success.
HOME, along with Legal Aid of Southwest Ohio, worked with The Cincinnati Project to identify and quantify patterns in our community to understand the components of eviction: who, how, by whom and the communities from which they are evicted. Eviction disproportionately impacts women of color and areas of high poverty in our region, which was mapped by The Cincinnati Project and received coverage in a WCPO-TV news story.
To support these types of equitable projects, please contact your GCF philanthropic advisor, who will reach out to you with specific funding opportunities when they are determined.