A Win for Affordable Housing

Celebrating the Opening of The Barrister

This spring, GCF attend a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of The Barrister, the first affordable housing development in the Central Business District in nearly 30 years. The renovated, historic building houses 44 affordable rental units, a commercial space and a community room. The nearly $16 million project was made possible by Over-the-Rhine Community Housing, developer Urban Sites, and funding from a long list of community stakeholders – including a $150,000 grant from GCF.

The Barrister is designed to be truly affordable to families earning between 30 and 60 percent of the area median income or roughly $25,00 to $51,000 annually for a family of four. For housing to be considered affordable, the monthly cost of rent or a mortgage cannot exceed 30 percent of a family’s household income.

During the ribbon cutting ceremony, Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval, highlighted just how special The Barrister is:

“Projects like The Barrister don’t just happen, especially with funding truly affordable housing. It’s something we need more of in downtown and through our entire city. It takes profound partnership to get transformational projects like this done… This is a powerful testament to the culture of collaboration within Greater Cincinnati.”

To make The Barrister successful, the project required various streams of funding, including:

  • Federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits
  • State and Federal Historic Tax Credits
  • City of Cincinnati TIF financing
  • An Ohio Housing Finance Agency Housing Development Assistance Program loan
  • Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) loan
  • Regional philanthropy including GCF
  • Investment from the National Equity Fund
  • Construction loan from First Financial Bank

This crucial collaboration comes at a time when residents in the Greater Cincinnati region are experiencing an increase in lack of affordable housing and soaring rent costs. In the span of one year, from April 2023 to April 2024, The Eviction Lab tracked 13,087 eviction filings in the city of Cincinnati and 44,597 since 2020.

In addition, the recently released Cincinnati Futures Report – led by Jon Moeller, chairman, president and CEO of P&G and dozens of other business executives, nonprofit leaders and labor leaders, with input from hundreds of regional residents – outlined affordable housing as a major issue inhibiting our region’s growth. The report also cited, “Residents identified the cost of living and housing affordability as the top two reasons they would consider moving out of the city.”

It’s no surprise that a top priority for current and future residents is housing. The place we call home can affect our health, income, access to quality education and child care, and overall quality of life. That’s why a project like The Barrister is worth celebrating and using as a model for future success.

At the end of the ceremony, Over-the Rhine Community Housing leasing agent, Cynthia Bell noted, “The first one I walked into – I wanted to stay – lay down and stay the night!”

Tonight, there are many heads laying down in new, beautiful apartments in the urban core of Cincinnati – near jobs, transportation and recreation – with what we hope is a renewed sense of peace, security and optimism.

If you’d like to support GCF’s ongoing efforts to create more affordable housing, contact Robert Killins, Jr., CAP® vice president, community investments at robert.killins@gcfdn.org.