Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing

This report is an analysis of impediments to fair housing choice for Cincinnati and Hamilton County. 

Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing

Executive Summary

This report is an analysis of impediments to fair housing choice for Cincinnati and Hamilton County. As recipients of Federal funding through the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, the City and County are under an obligation to affirmatively further fair housing and conduct periodic analysis of impediments to fair housing choice. This analysis included collecting data about the county as it relates to fair housing and conducting eight focus groups of individuals knowledgeable about various aspects of the housing market in Hamilton County.  Download the report here

Key findings from data about the county, maps, tables and research reports include:

  • The metropolitan area is 80% white, 15% African American, 2.2% Asian, and 2.7% Hispanic.

  • Hamilton County is 68% white, 26% African American, 2% Asian and 2.6% Hispanic. The City of Cincinnati is 48% white, 45% African American, 1.8% Asian and 2.8% Hispanic.

  • A comparison done after the 2010 census named the region the eighth most racially segregated metropolitan area in the United States.

  • The Cincinnati metropolitan area has not been a significant destination for foreign immigrants for more than 100 years. While growth rates for Asian and Hispanic populations are large, they still comprise less than 5%, collectively, of the region’s population. About 6% of the population report speaking a language other than English at home.

  • Children under 18 years of age make up 24% of the population.

  • In Hamilton County about 12% of the population has a disability; 7% of the population has ambulatory difficulty, e.g. serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs.

  • A review of the location of assisted housing in Hamilton County shows a trend toward deconcentration of assisted housing from a few Cincinnati inner city neighborhoods into a wider range of City neighborhoods and into jurisdictions in the County. However, the majority of assisted housing is still found in the City with 13.4% of City households having housing assistance and 2.9% of County households having housing assistance.

  • An opportunity analysis of Hamilton County shows that African Americans are disproportionately concentrated into the lowest opportunity neighborhoods. The analysis used 27 different opportunity indicators in five different opportunity areas (Education and Child Welfare, Economic Opportunity and Mobility, Housing, Neighborhood and Community Development, Public Health, Public Safety and Criminal Justice).

  • There are 13 census tracts in the County that are racially concentrated areas of poverty (less than 10% White population and more than 20% poverty). About 35,000 people live in these census tracts.

  • Hamilton County has 28 communities in the City and County that have been stable and racially integrated for more than 20 years. See information on stable integrated neighborhoods on page 43.

  • The American home foreclosure crisis impacted African Americans in Cincinnati and Hamilton County at higher rates than other racial and ethnic groups.

  • African American home buyers face higher mortgage rejection rates than whites, regardless of their incomes.

  • African American homeowners are more likely to have high-cost sub prime mortgages, regardless of income, than similarly situated Latino, Caucasian, and Asian American homeowners.

This Analysis of Impediments focuses primarily on issues of housing choice related to the classes protected by Federal, state, and local laws. The Federal law prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or because of children in the household. In addition, in 2008, the Ohio law was amended to prohibit discrimination based on military status. Cincinnati ordinances are more restrictive than these requirements and prohibit discrimination based on marital status, Appalachian ancestry, and sexual orientation; these ordinances have been in existence for decades and were last updated in 2012.

Recent major fair housing lawsuits and complaints include the 2009 findings of racial discrimination by HUD against the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority and the resulting Voluntary Compliance Agreement. In 2010, HOME assisted several women in the filing of a sexual harassment case against their landlord. The U.S. Department of Justice handled the case, U.S. v. Henry Bailey, and obtained a judgment of $800,000 in damages and $55,000 in civil penalties. Two Federal court cases involved disabilities, one a reasonable accommodation for a tenant and the other a zoning case against the City of Montgomery involving a group home. Both were settled.

Housing Opportunities Made Equal (H.O.M.E.) is a private fair housing agency that serves the Cincinnati metropolitan area. It receives funding from the City and County and provides client services, education and outreach, a Mobility program, and a tenant advocacy program. In 2013, Housing Opportunities Made Equal received 511 complaints/inquires about housing discrimination.

Progress has been made in addressing the impediments to fair housing choice identified in 2009. A summary of these results begins on page 57. Based on the data, information, and focus group discussions seven impediments to fair housing choice are identified. Recommendations are made on actions to address each.

  1. Lack of public transportation in opportunity areas

  2. Zoning and building code barriers

  • Zoning codes restrict the siting of group homes.

  • Within county jurisdictions, zoning limits the possibilities for affordable housing.

  • Local codes can make accessibility modifications expensive and burdensome.

  1. Affordable housing is concentrated in racially segregated areas.

  2. Barriers to mobility of families with vouchers

  • Some communities have a reputation as being unwelcoming or even dangerous for African Americans.

  • Landlords can decide not to accept Housing Choice vouchers, so it is a major barrier to choice if too few participate in the program.

  • Families with vouchers are not knowledgeable about opportunity communities.

  1. Barriers for immigrant populations

  • There is a lack of Spanish-speaking staff for public services and among landlords.

  • Immigrants feel unwelcome in some communities and tend to avoid these areas.

  1. Barriers to African American Homeownership

  • Among the African American community there is a lack of understanding of the lending process, fear of predatory lending, and a general distrust of banks.

  1. Barriers to housing choice for people with disabilities

  • People don’t have resources to make accessibility modifications.


Aisha Tzillah