Cincinnati Green Lights Affordable Housing

The City Council of Cincinnati recently gave the green light for a brand new project in one of the city's poorest areas. This affordable housing project, located in the Lower Price Hill, is actually pretty shocking news for residents, especially residents who will benefit from this housing. The city's major, John Cranley, actually strongly objected to any new housing project being built. Even still, the council overrode his wishes and voted to pass legislation that would begin funding the development of a new project.

The story gets a bit confusing when it comes to the Lower Price Hill project. Everything seemed to be working out well a few months ago. The City Council had almost all of the funding necessary, and upwards of 50 poor families were going to be granted housing in this project. Though just when things were looking up for the project, city administrators then pulled back and refused to help launch the project by withholding $1 million in federal grant money.

This is objectively an odd thing to do, seeing as this wasn't city money, or even state money. This was federal money that came from the CARES Act relief package, signed by President Trump and passed by Congress. So that the city wanted to hoard these funds is perhaps a story that should have broken nationally months ago, but it went largely unnoticed to the nation. All except for the 50 poor families who need housing, and Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, most were ignoring this and had chalked it up to another failed project. Unfortunately, they happen all of the time to the poorest communities in America's cities, typically only spoken about during election season when politicians need votes.

However, Sittenfeld championed the project and ultimately found seven other council members who agreed to green light the project. This meant the council had enough votes to go ahead with the housing project, despite not receiving that federal assistance that the state decided to hoard.

The only councilperson who voted no was Betsy Sundermann, who claimed that she did not want a "greater concentration of low income housing" on the "west side" of Cincinnati. Coincidentally, of course, that just so happens to be where Councilperson Sundermann lives, and many are noticing this trend with politicians who preach openly about helping people, though refusing to locate these people near where they live.

The issue here between the political sides is often over wording. While one side calls these projects "low income," the other side points out that this title is a misnomer. They claim that this is actually free housing, Section 8 housing, given to people who do not even have jobs. We see this issue is also a big one for the nation. Many believe that the idea of low income and Section 8 housing deters people from working, as they're providing with all of their life essentials for free, including a home, groceries, medical care, and even things like phones, Internet and child care. Though the other side claims that these people have no choice but to accept benefits due to their life circumstances.

Sittenfeld assured the council that this project was not Section 8 housing, meaning that the city would not be eating a continued expenditure as residents lived rent free in the new area.

The Fiscal Issue of Section 8 Housing

By and large, Section 8 housing is free rent. Although a lot of people do still pay rent, the rate is typically $50 per month, and the vast majority of people on Section 8 paying are already getting over $1,200 a month in federal and state cash benefits. Anyone can see why this is a very polarizing issue. Mathematically speaking, someone on Section 8, SNAP benefits, utility assistance, and receiving monetary payments is making the equivalent of over $40,000 per year, without ever having to work. You can also add in child tax credits and possible unemployment payments, bringing this number up to over $50,000 per year for someone who doesn't work yet receives the full suite of benefits. Progressive Democrats do not even argue the validity of these numbers; there merely claim that this level of assistance is to what these people are entitled due to America's history of oppression.

Republicans, however, point out that they believe this is not only unfair to tax payers and a massive drain on our economy, but it's also the number-one reason for unemployment. They believe people would never want to work a normal job when they make more by not working.

Regardless of where one stands on the issue, 50 families in Cincinnati will soon have affordable housing.

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