VOICES: A path forward for new investment in housing

In 2016, Dayton residents approved an eight-year .25% income tax levy which projected to generate $11 million annually in new city revenue.

Based on data and community needs, we developed a plan to invest in our neighborhoods, public safety, and universal preschool. Over the last seven years, the city can say with confidence that we have delivered on our promise to taxpayers using these dollars.

We’ve paved 239 lane miles across all our neighborhoods, updated 20 city parks, increased vacant lot mowing, invested in public safety, and provided over 10,000 children access to high-quality pre-school.

As we approach the expiration of the 2016 tax levy, we must return to voters on the March 19 ballot for a renewal. Our collective progress depends on it.

The Commission has fully agreed to allocate funding in the income tax renewal to address the ongoing need for quality housing.

I appreciate the proposals that have come from my colleagues, and we’ve worked diligently to determine a path forward.

It is impossible to ignore the changes that have occurred in our economy since 2016 — the costs of delivering city services have increased substantially. Without being forced to cut the other commitments in the levy renewal, we can include a new allocation of $650,000 for housing at $5.2 million total over the next eight years.

I am in full support of building on this step by committing the next eight years of the city’s $450,000 in discretionary community development block grant (CDBG) funds toward housing as well.

I believe this is the right thing to do. Not only would this approach avoid the realities of making cuts to our other commitments, but altogether it would increase our annual investment in housing by $1.1 million total.

Over the next eight years, that would mean $8.8 million in sustained housing investment and zero cuts to pre-school, public safety, neighborhood street repaving, vacant lot mowing, and park improvements.

This new funding would further leverage the city’s existing annual allocation of $4.3 million toward homeless assistance, construction, and rehab of rental units for low-to-moderate income households, and structural preservation.

Through the Dayton Recovery Plan (DRP), funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), we’ve also committed $15 million to demolish 75% of the city’s nuisance structures over the next few years and awarded $12 million for home repair, new unit construction, and housing redevelopment projects.

Including additional support for housing in our plan for the tax renewal will undoubtedly propel the progress we continue to make.

The work of moving our city forward has required resiliency, strong partnerships, and creative approaches to how we utilize limited resources.

Eight years ago, Dayton taxpayers made an investment in the future of our community, and we’ve followed through.

With this approach to the income tax renewal, I’m confident we can follow through again.

Jeffrey J. Mims, Jr. is the Mayor of Dayton.

About the Author