VOICES: ‘Time to dream big,’ make neighborhoods a priority with housing funding

Editor’s Note: Commissioners Shaw, Joseph and Mayor Mims declined to submit a contributed column on this topic.

Over the next few weeks, the Dayton City Commission will make important financial decisions for our future. In 2024, the income tax levy that funds Your Dollars, Your Neighborhood (Issue 9) will expire, and we must act soon to place a renewal on the March 19 ballot.

The magnitude of these decisions exceeds $120 million.

It is time to dream big and make our neighborhoods a priority. The most transformative spending we can make is to invest in the quality of our housing. This investment will be a catalyst. It will encourage home ownership, improve housing, increase safety, and promote well-being. It will breed confidence and attract private investment; people will be willing to invest their money in new homes and renovate existing ones.

We are uniquely poised to seize this opportunity. Recently, we adopted a new Housing Plan. We will soon complete $55 million of our American Rescue Plan Funding into our neighborhoods.

Currently, the Housing Plan is unfunded and we have no dedicated funding to sustain the development initiated with the ARPA funding. We have seen this situation before – development started, but abandoned before realizing its potential.

Dedicating $1.3 million per year over the eight years of this renewal will inspire development. It removes uncertainty, provides guidance and facilitates strategic planning for our housing partners and developers.

We have this opportunity because we have been successful. We have delivered the services that were promised for Your Dollars, Your Neighborhood – we have provided universal pre-school (Preschool Promise), repaved roads, improved parks, mowed vacant lots, and maintained safety services.

We have been judicious in our spending. Improving economic conditions have led to higher revenues. In 2022 there was a 27% surplus ($3.4 million) beyond our Your Dollars, Your Neighborhood spending.

We are excited because there is a lot of agreement among the commission members. We agree that this levy renewal is necessary. We agree we cannot jeopardize current commitments. We agree on including funding for housing. We are close to finding a compromise.

Initially, we proposed allocating $2 million of the $3.4 million surplus per year towards the Housing Plan. Unfortunately, our proposal does not yet have full buy-in from the rest of city leadership. The counter proposal only allocates $650,000 to fund the Housing Plan, which is neither sufficient nor sustainable.

Allocating sufficient funds for the Housing Plan will provide improvements that residents can feel and touch. They will encourage neighborhood stabilization while beginning to reverse decades of neglect and disinvestment.

Dedicated funding will breathe life into the ambitious Housing Plan initiatives such as a Critical Repair Program for Homeowners (especially for seniors on fixed incomes), down-payment assistance for home ownership; and a receivership program that can transform an unproductive property from an eyesore into an asset.

We can also sufficiently fund tenant protections like code enforcement, regular inspections, and a universal Right to Counsel program to save our neighbors from eviction.

Our proposal is critical, reasonable and doable.

Now is the time to reverse the decades of underinvestment in our neighborhoods. Like bold Daytonians of the past who met the challenges of their moment or broke the bonds of gravity, we need to believe in our community and our ability to create a better future, a better Dayton.

Darryl Fairchild and Shenise Turner-Sloss are Dayton City Commissioners.

Credit: Knack Video + Photo

Credit: Knack Video + Photo

Credit: Knack Video + Photo

Credit: Knack Video + Photo

About the Authors