Material living conditions are the tangible resources that affect personal and collective quality of life. They are a base standard from which people and communities can grow, develop and thrive.
As a lifelong renter, service industry professional and regular public transit user, I am personally committed to ELEVATE THE MATERIAL LIVING CONDITIONS of my fellow working class citizens.
These are the six core pillars on which my worker-centered platform is founded:
Housing Is A Human Right
As a tenant and member of the renter class, I know the importance of affordable housing. Like many of us, I've personally witnessed the decline of available affordable units in Cincinnati as a result of rapid gentrification. In just the last five years, Cincinnati rental prices have increased 100–400%, while workers' wages have only stagnated. The result is a continual decrease in available affordable units, leaving us with a current overall housing deficit of roughly 20,000. Providing more affordable housing throughout all of Cincinnati's 52 neighborhoods, not just in small consolidated pockets of the city, should be the primary concern of all future development deals.
FUND THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING TRUST
The Affordable Housing Trust was established in 2018 yet remained completely unfunded until the last two months. However, $32M over ten years is not nearly enough. Federal money might serve as a temporary band-aid, but the root of the issue is that our city government needs to designate dedicated revenue streams for funding the trust. Once actually funded, the Affordable Housing Trust can finally serve its intended purpose: to create new affordable housing units every year while providing hundreds to thousands of well-paying jobs in the process.
UP-ZONE THE CITY
Cincinnati suffers from decades of city planning seemingly designed to perpetuate economic and racial segregation. Multi-unit housing is consolidated into a handful of select neighborhoods, thus exacerbating generations of cyclical poverty in those neighborhoods due to a lack of investment. Affordable housing should be accessible everywhere, even in more historically affluent neighborhoods like Hyde Park and Mt. Adams. Despite the fear-mongering, creation of affordable housing does not negatively impact property values. We must dispel this harmful myths and re-zone the city in order to provide more multi-unit structures as well as remove mandatory parking minimums.
IMPLEMENT RENT CONTROL &
STRENGTHEN RENTER PROTECTIONS
Cincinnati has been designated by wealthy, out-of-town developers as an “eviction friendly city.” Tenants here have little to no rental protections, along with a lack of knowledge about their legal rights or financial resources to protect them. This is why we need to pass a Tenant Bill of Rights and encourage the creation of tenant unions. I am also in support of a city-wide ordinance to establish rental caps and rent control that is cost-adjusted to the median income of a given neighborhood.
Hamilton County's Minimum Wage of $8.80 is a poverty wage
Working full-time at minimum wage is not enough to comfortably afford housing, food, transportation and other necessities. Anything less than a livable wage is asking taxpayers to subsidize the costs of major and local employers whose employees are paid so little that they necessitate having to utilize public assistance programs. Working class people have been fighting for a $15 minimum wage for so long—since at least 2012—that $15/hour won't actually be a livable wage by the time any meaningful legislation is passed. Furthermore, due to legislation passed by Ohio House Republicans (SB 331), Cincinnati is unable to increase its minimum wage above the state-wide minimum.
RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE
FOR CITY EMPLOYEES
Recent increases to Hamilton County's minimum wage have only applied to full-time staff and employers have responded by simply hiring more part-time staff instead. I want to introduce legislation that increases the wages of all city employees to $15 an hour. This will ideally set a precedent for other municipalities and businesses to follow.
LOBBY THE STATE TO OVERTURN THE LAW
We can forge a way forward by building a coalition of state lawmakers, unions, activists and working class voters to ensure the anti-worker provisions of SB 331 are found unconstitutional.
INCENTIVIZE SMALL BUSINESSES
We can offer tax incentives to small businesses to ensure that all employees are paid the equivalent of $15/hr.
I want to empower existing unions as well as encourage the formation of new unions in fields that have historically lacked union representation, such as our local food and bar service industry.
FUND SOCIAL SERVICES
Lack of affordable housing and livable wages Results in the need for public assistance
Yet, Cincinnati allocates only 1.3–1.5% of the total city budget to social services. This is an obscenely low percentage for a city of our size, especially considering other compounding issues such as the recent heroin epidemic that has plagued all of our communities. Helping people avoid the pitfalls that lead to poverty, food insecurity and homelessness is far more constructive for public safety than the presence of law enforcement. We need a robust investment in how we treat and assist the most vulnerable in this city, which—from a humanitarian standpoint—should be centered above all.
DOUBLE THE HUMAN SERVICES BUDGET
INVEST IN MOBILE CRISIS UNITS
EXPAND RAPID RE-HOUSING PROGRAMS
CREATE NEW HOMELESS SHELTERS
A MULTI-FACETED PHRASE
When most people hear the word “accessibility,” they tend to only picture access for the differently abled. While this is paramount to the overall equity in our city, accessibility also pertains to infrastructure and public transit. As a public transit user myself, I fully supported the passing of Issue 7 to overhaul and expand Cincinnati Metro routes and services. However, infrastructure accessibility extends beyond roads, streets and bridges—it also includes necessary utilities like water, sewage and broadband internet; all of which are wholly inadequate in numerous parts of Cincinnati. Like affordable housing, accessibility is key to making Cincinnati a livable city for everyone.
ENSURE ADA-COMPLIANCE IN
NEW HOUSING & INFRASTRUCTURE
EXPAND EXISTING PUBLIC TRANSIT
Metro has made significant gains due to the passage of issue 7, but we must remain vigilant, as the public transit fund is perpetually under threat of being defunded due to the actions of our current governor.
END FOOD DESERTS
25% of neighborhoods in Cincinnati do not have access to fresh, healthy food. This no doubt contributes to our city’s 45% child poverty rate. We need to incentivize the creation of neighborhood grocery stores, ideally co-ops or businesses publicly owned by the neighborhood.
EXPAND BROADBAND INTERNET
Internet infrastructure should be classified as a utility, but until then, it is crucial for us to expand existing broadband internet, particularly in underserved neighborhoods.
END CASH BAIL
Stop Criminalizing Being Poor
Cash bail is an antiquated and regressive practice that disproportionately harms the already impoverished and effectively criminalizes being poor. Being arrested and taken to jail does not de facto make one guilty. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested over 25 times in his life.
Monetary exchanges within the justice system uphold the nature of fine-based policing, where crimes can be paid off with money and laws become non-existent to the rich and privileged. Ending cash bail will also save our city money by not wasting tax payer dollars keeping potential contributing members of society behind bars for non-violent offenses.
I also echo the sentiments of Raymond T. Faller, head of the Hamilton County Public Defenders Office, that cash bail does not promote public safety:
It creates wealth-based detention. The rationale behind the use of cash bail is that it is supposed to act as an incentive for defendants to return to court. Unfortunately, it too frequently acts as a barrier to freedom. Court reminders are cheap—they cost as little as $2 per person, or even less—while pretrial incarceration is extraordinarily expensive. In Hamilton County, it costs $71 per day to keep one person in jail. Based on the number of legally innocent people Hamilton County chooses to detain, that comes to a monthly total of $1,219,354. That’s $14,632,248 per year.
People held pretrial are more likely to be convicted. Their sentences are two to three times longer than their wealthier peers charged with the same crime but able to purchase their release.
ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER
Last year, Cincinnati City Council passed a motion classifying racism as a health crisis. It is no longer enough to simply be “not racist.” We must be actively anti-racist by confronting racism in all forms and within all institutions. Only then will we get to the root of why Black people are disproportionately on the receiving end of unjust and inequitable treatment that results in higher levels of child poverty, infant mortality and incarceration rates along with lower life expectancy.