The fifth session of the 18 Hour City Series occurred on September 13 with the topic of 100% Housing. The discussion was led by Kathy Schwab, Executive Director of LISC Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, Paola Garrido Estevez, Special Projects Associate of LISC, Lydia Jacobs-Horton, Executive Director of ULI Cincinnati, and Nick Downer of Loveland Technologies.
The 100% Housing initiative is composed of representatives from 40+ commercial real estate and social service organizations that are working on Portfolio, Planning and Finance teams to build a framework for Greater Cincinnati’s affordable housing strategy. This initiative kicked off in February 2018 with LISC of Greater Cincinnati and ULI Cincinnati’s WLI Committee spearheading the effort.
What prompted this initiative?
In 2017, a study of Greater Cincinnati’s housing affordability found Hamilton County lacks 40,000 units of housing affordable for the lowest income households. These are households paying over 30% of their income on housing. The same study, commissioned by LISC and conducted by the Community Building Institute at Xavier University, estimated Hamilton County also had more than 40,000 vacant residential units. This prompted the question, “What if those vacant units could be matched up with families struggling to find and pay for housing?” Such a program could provide 100% housing throughout Hamilton County.
After convening 70 representatives from 40 organizations, the hard work of identifying vacant units and planning for their revitalization began. This is where Loveland Technologies entered the picture. Loveland Technologies is a Detroit-based firm that uses data and mapping to arm communities to fight blight through a sophisticated data collection platform.
To evaluate the likelihood of a property being vacant, anonymized data from the U.S. Postal Service, water shut-offs, and a vacancy list maintained by city officials was used. The team then ranked and mapped every potentially vacant property in Hamilton County. Properties that showed up as vacant on all three lists were marked 3; properties that didn’t show up on any list were 0 — and likely not vacant. This was used as a starting point for physical surveying to determine true vacancy and condition.
At the September 13 ULl Cincinnati 18 Hour Series the partners presented findings from a door-to-door survey of 10,514 parcels which reveled 6,536 actual vacancies. Based on the survey, initial findings show that there are many fewer vacant units than the 40,000 originally estimated in the 2017 Housing Affordability Study.
Participants at the event brainstormed ways to create portfolios of vacant properties for redevelopment as affordable housing by discussing possible solutions to the following:
- Needs are greatest for families at lower incomes (under 50% AMI). How do we prioritize these families even as we think about this as a real estate challenge?
- How should we evaluate different end user populations and ensure homes meet their needs: multi-generational households, seniors, households with disabilities etc.?
- Not all low income households will be homeowners. What other approaches can we consider for the scattered site real estate portfolio?
- What would make these projects attractive to developers and rehabbers?
- Where are other resources available?
ULI Cincinnati was instrumental in providing answers to be applied as the 100% Housing program progresses to its next major milestone – developing funding sources for acquisition, restoration and ultimately converting vacant properties into homes.
What is ULI Cincinnati’s 18 Hour City Series?
18 Hour City Series is a creative problem-solving forum. The structure allows industry talent to engage with panelists to innovate around unique challenges and ideas. Our ULI Members are a diverse group of thought leaders. We are doers who design and solve for effective use of land and the built environment. Expert panelists will present contemporary thinking on a subject and together we will help form, create and sustain our 18 Hour City. Join us on November 8, 2018 to explore “Maintaining Competitive Advantage”. Visit Cincinnati.uli.org for more information and to sign up.