Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hamilton County housing survey finds multiple challenges, suggests rehabilitation

More than one-third of Hamilton County households have a significant housing issue and the problem should be addressed through rehabilitation and targeted redevelopment, according to a recent study of affordable housing by Portland-based Western Economic Services.

The 172-page Hamilton County Comprehensive Housing Study, commissioned by the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority to inform future plans for affordable housing development, was presented to the public during a pair of town hall sessions held December 13 at Xavier University's Cintas Center.

The four-month study examined census, housing, labor and economic data as well as data from local planning departments. It also included feedback on housing development and services solicited through 511 resident surveys and input collected from three public meetings held in June.

Although the number of housing units increased 1.1 percent between 2000 and 2010, the analysis identified eight categories of housing challenges still faced in Hamilton County:
  • An aging housing stock, with more than 80 percent of the county's housing built before 1980;
  • Increasing vacancy rates, increasing by 63.2 percent from 2000 to 2010;
  • Declining home values, which have continued to fall since 2007;
  • Unmet housing needs for many low- and moderate income households, with more than 90,000 households earning less than 80 percent of the median income and having at least one unmet housing need – such as a lack of adequate facilities, difficulty paying rent, or lead paint;
  • A lack of sufficient senior housing, especially independent and assisted living options;
  • A lack of sufficient housing for disabled persons;
  • Insufficient financial assistance for a population whose poverty rate increased while the county's share of the region's jobs decreased; and
  • A desire for additional contemporary housing and neighborhood features, such as energy efficiency, pedestrian-friendly streets, and equitable distribution of community features such as schools, parks, and grocery stores.
The study recommended future creation of affordable housing through the rehabilitation of existing structures and limited, targeted demolition and redevelopment of structures that are too dilapidated to save.

This could be best achieved through policy changes that encourage accessibility and visitability and through focused resources, the study said. Partnerships with other agencies could help in the identification and aggregation of parcels that could be redeveloped as owner-occupied housing, rental units, or both.

It also suggests exploring the feasibility of a pilot affordable homeownership program in which prospective homeowners can purchase and rehabilitate a home, which it said could help address current housing market realities.

The study will be shared with the City of Cincinnati, Hamilton County, the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, and other local agencies.

Previous reading on BC:
City West money to aid $25M YMCA redevelopment (10/8/12)
Survey to gauge Hamilton County's emerging housing needs (6/18/12)
Cincinnati accepts $8.1M for foreclosure remediation (5/4/10)
Mount Lookout residents not 'forced out' by Section 8, could stay (3/19/09)
Witte: 'Phil's Manor' still an issue (3/12/09)