Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Banks and Section 8

Last Tuesday, the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority voted to ask the county and city to set aside as much as ten percent of the housing to be built at the Banks for tenants with Section 8 vouchers (Enquirer coverage here). This looks like a political move by conservative West Siders to attempt to reduce subsidized housing on the West Side by moving it to the Banks. If we set that aside, though, I think there's two interesting questions that are raised:

First, is there a good argument for the inclusion of subsidized housing in Banks project? This is a public works project of enormous magnitude; isn't there a case to be made that everyone, including the region's poorest residents, should be able to be part of it? Or does the presence of subsidized housing depress a given housing market enough that financing for the Banks would disappear if developers were forced to include units that would include Section 8 tenants?

Second, Pete Witte is quoted as saying that the Banks "will become the 53rd neighborhood of the City of Cincinnati." Is this really true? Fifteen years from now, will we be discussing Downtown and The Banks as two separate neighborhoods, or will the Banks be considered part of "downtown"? (And will there be a streetcar to take me there?)

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