Deal for 194 single-family homes announced

play

Cincinnati: A city of renters

Cincinnati has one of the highest percentage of renter households in the country, ranking 9th among American cities with at least 250,000 people.

Michael Nyerges, Cincinnati Enquirer

The Port announced Wednesday it will spend $14.5 million to buy almost 200 family homes from an out-of-town company that has struggled for several years to pay its taxes and maintain its properties.

Port officials called the purchase “an unprecedented effort” to save 194 single-family homes that might otherwise be lost. It is the Port’s largest purchase of homes in its history.

Most of the homes now are occupied by renters and 20 are vacant. Cincinnati has one of the largest per capita populations of renters in America among big cities, with renters accounting for 62% of all households. 

The homes, located throughout Hamilton County, are part of a portfolio of properties owned by Raineth Housing, a Los Angeles-based firm that has acquired hundreds of properties in cities across the United States. Raineth now is in foreclosure and its properties in receivership.

The city of Cincinnati sued Raineth in 2019 in an effort to force the company to pay fines and clean up several properties on Cincinnati’s West Side that had fallen into disrepair and, in some cases, had become so “blighted” the city considered them a threat to public safety.

Laura Brunner, the Port’s president and CEO, described Raineth as the kind of institutional investor that gobbled up cheap properties throughout the city in the wake of the housing crash and the Great Recession more than a decade ago.

She said the Port moved quickly on its bid for the properties in Hamilton County because neighborhood groups and others feared another out-of-town investor would swoop in an buy the properties, which could lead to more of the same problems the city experienced when Raineth owned them.

Brunner said the Port outbid 13 other investors for the Hamilton County portfolio of homes. The homes are appealing because property values here are low relative to the rents owners can charge, Brunner said, a situation that makes Cincinnati a target for investors with few ties to the community.

“These investors typically look to purchase homes in some of the county’s most disinvested neighborhoods, leaving many renters vulnerable to eviction,” Brunner said Wednesday. “Very simply, these investors are more concerned with profits than they are with people.”

She said the Port’s goal in acquiring the homes is to keep them from falling into disrepair or demolition, saving them for future homeowners. 

“The Port’s intent … is to create a pathway for homeownership,” Port officials said in a statement.

Port officials said they will work closely with several nonprofit community organizations, including Legal Aid, Housing Opportunities Made Equal, Working in Neighborhoods and Price Hill Will. Leaders of some of those groups expressed support for the purchase Wednesday, saying it would save single-family homes for the future and also relieve pressure on the renters who live in those homes today.

“We are relieved the Port is stepping in to purchase properties whose occupants frequently face increased rental rates, threats of eviction and/or maintenance requests that are regularly ignored,” said Rachel Hastings, executive director of Price Hill Will. 

Though other details of the purchase were not immediately available, Sister Barbara Busch, executive director of Working in Neighborhoods, said the deal came about at the “very last minute.” She said the Port’s involvement was critical.

“Without them, we would not have the opportunity to compete with these out-of-town investors,” Busch said.

Port officials said Colliers, a real estate broker with offices in Cincinnati, would continue to provide property management services for the 194 homes. They said Colliers took over as the receiver of the Raineth portfolio 10 months ago.

Brunner said Colliers has done a good job staying on top of maintenance at the properties and resolving Raineth’s issues with the city. She said the plan now is to work with local nonprofits to move the renters currently in the homes toward ownership of those homes.

In many cases, Brunner said, their mortgage payments on the homes may be lower than their monthly rent.

The Port has invested in single-family homes in the past, but never on this scale. Brunner said the Port would issue partially tax-exempt bonds to cover the purchase cost.

“Our plan is to be patient,” Brunner said. “This is our chance to do something at a much, much higher scale.”

Related Articles

Stay Connected

22,912FansLike
3,119FollowersFollow
0SubscribersSubscribe
- Advertisement -

Latest Articles