VOICES: Balancing the needs of residents with growing the local economy

As rents continue to climb across the region and many local residents find themselves working in occupations that on average do not pay enough for them to afford modest rental units, affordable housing is becoming an increasingly important issue for our communities and communities across the nation.

New housing and commercial developments are planned across our region and each one sparks heated debate among residents who will live near them, the developers of these projects and civic leaders who must balance the needs of existing residents with growing the local economy and attracting newcomers.

In Ideas & Voices this month, we’ll be exploring several of these developments and the community dynamics involved in each one. This week, hear from different perspectives on the Anthony Wayne building renovation in Hamilton.

Finally, at noon on Aug. 24, we will convene a virtual panel of experts to discuss this boom in local development, how affordable housing options created today will shape our region in the years to come, and the concerns some community members have about these plans. You can watch the Community Conversation on the Dayton Daily News Facebook page.

Tim Werdmann, Executive Director of Internal Services for the City of Hamilton:

“We must continue to be mindful of housing affordability as we continue to grow as a community. As a legacy city with older residential building stock, one of our main concerns is to ensure that we are constantly improving the overall quality of housing that exists in our community. The Anthony Wayne project is anticipated to inject millions of dollars of direct and indirect investment into the community. Based upon our experience over the past decade, we have seen catalytic investments such as the Anthony Wayne project beget additional investments in the community, including investments in additional residential housing developments.

This is important, because experts agree that issues related to housing affordability in Hamilton, and the nation, are primarily driven by the overall lack of supply of available housing units. We recently completed a housing study that shows we are thousands of units short. Because of this scarcity, bringing on new supply at any price point will help with overall availability and decrease the likelihood of displacement. It is our goal to continue to incentivize and assist with catalytic projects that will help draw residential development and redevelopment to improve our overall housing accessibility and affordability.”

Jon Ford, Senior Attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio:

“Ideally, the residents of the Anthony Wayne should be able to continue to live in their homes. We should strive to be a society that does not prioritize profit over people. However, if this aim is not achievable, we have asked the City to be fair in its use of public funds. If a wealthy, out of town investor can access $3 million of tax dollars via a forgivable loan, it is only fair that some resources also be devoted to the residents in order to assist them in relocating. Further, given that the City’s policies are worsening the Anthony Wayne residents’ plight by limiting availability of affordable housing, the City should also affirmatively help them to locate safe, affordable and appropriate housing, and should make increasing affordable housing in our community an ongoing priority. The current and future owners should also provide generous assistance to the tenants during this transition. The status quo is unsustainable. We need focused and aggressive action from our leaders on all levels to address this crisis before it worsens further.”

Matt Olliges, President of Vision Realty Group:

“In my 20-year career of developing, managing and investing in real estate, I have seen few places with the attractive vibrancy that is present in Hamilton right now. Our first project in Hamilton, the apartments and Billy Yanks restaurant in the Hammerle Building, has been a huge success and we intend to build on that success with future projects.

As Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce President Dan Bates recently told the Journal News, “we need more hotels in downtown Hamilton.”

“From an economic development standpoint, that corner of the city is really underutilized,” Bates told the paper. “I think this opens the opportunity to make that a hub. I think it’s all positive.”'

Karyn Ginn, resident of the Anthony Wayne building:

“Real people are being displaced from their homes by this process, with nowhere to go despite our best efforts to find somewhere. I don’t understand how the City can provide millions of dollars to help a corporate developer draw tourists in, but nothing to help us ordinary folks who are part of the Hamilton community. We’re basically being given the option of living under the bridge across the road.

We need help. We’re not asking for much (certainly not $3 million dollars), but just enough to give us a fair shot in all of this.”

Look for continued affordable housing coverage in Ideas & Voices this Sunday, Aug. 21 as we take a look at new housing developments planned for Springfield.

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