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There Goes the Neighborhood

By Gregory Flannery · November 1st, 2006 · Porkopolis
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  Lon Coleman distributes fliers and warns that the proposed jail tax
Sean Hughes

Lon Coleman distributes fliers and warns that the proposed jail tax "hoses" the public.



The Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) is actively pushing poor people out of Over-the-Rhine, according to the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless. Case in point: the 33 people who, until last week, lived in a boarding house at 1316-18 Race St. The single-room occupancy was in operation for more than 40 years -- until 3CDC wanted it. Residents received eviction notices Oct. 1 and have now vacated the premises.

"This is an alarming trend that we've seen before with 3CDC," says Georgine Getty, executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless. "They will only buy vacant buildings so they can make the claim they haven't displaced anyone, but that's disingenuous. They are making the landlords do the dirty work, then swooping in and buying up these buildings."

Kevin Armstrong, spokesman for 3CDC, said the organization offered to help residents find other housing.

"We worked with the landlord to provide alternative housing for residents there," he says. "We're not intent on making anyone do any dirty work."

But the Rev. Sherry Gale, pastor of Nast Trinity United Methodist Church, said 3CDC's help wasn't worth much. The displaced residents mostly worked as day laborers, with severely limited income, she says.

"The problem is that this is very unique housing serving a very unique population," Gale says. "There is no similar replacement for these units. There's no one waiting in the wings to provide housing to this group of folks."

At least one former resident has already sought help at the Drop Inn Center. Pat Clifford, general coordinator of the shelter, says it housed 230 homeless people last weekend.

People concerned about the neighborhood's future can voice their opinions when 3CDC hosts another Over-the-Rhine Rap Session at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Memorial Hall. The organization will unveil architectural drawings for its plans for Music Hall Square, a public plaza to be built between Memorial Hall and Music Hall.

"It's clear residents and stakeholders are passionate about this community, and we are committed to a collaborative development process," says Darrick Dansby, 3CDC's director of development for Over-the-Rhine.

Political Deception Isn't Counted as a Crime
The No Jail Tax Political Action Committee (PAC) filed a complaint Oct. 29 with the Hamilton County Board of Elections, seeking to strike a proposed sales tax hike from Tuesday's ballot. The language on the ballot would send the new revenue to the county's general fund, not specifically for a new jail, according to Mike Shryock, spokesman for the group.

But even if the language were clear, the PAC opposes construction of a new jail. At a press conference Oct. 30 on the steps of the Justice Center, Shryock showed a pro-tax mailer with a picture of two creepy looking men focusing on jail overcrowding.

"It's a lie," Shryock said. "It's manipulation. This card they're sending out -- it's complete distortions, insinuating that they're having to turn away serial killers. Most people don't know it's full of petty criminals."

Barb Wolf agreed. The documentary filmmaker and activist was recently arrested for participating in an anti-war sit-in. The women she was locked up with were there for such petty offenses as not paying jaywalking tickets, Wolf said.

So what's the alternative?

"We have a plan -- treatment, prevention, rehabilitation," Shryock said. "San Diego reduced their recidivism rate from 70 percent to 30 percent by putting people in rehab, and we can do it, too."

The group's complaint about the ballot language came too late; the ballots are already printed. But Shryock said they were proceeding anyway to make a point.

During the press conference, Lon Coleman, a supporter of the PAC, yelled, "They hosed you on the stadium, they're hosing you on the jail." While waiting to cross the street, County Commissioner Phil Heimlich, who proposed the tax hike, joked with a woman that he was expecting her to keep him safe. He took a flyer and kept on walking. Coleman pointed to Heimlich and shouted, "Principal hoser!"

Keep this phone number handy Tuesday: 1-866-OUR VOTE. That's the voter assistance hotline staffed by the Election Protection Coalition. Led by People For the American Way Foundation, the NAACP and the Lawyers' Committee For Civil Rights Under Law, the coalition tries to help with problems at polling places, including voter identification requirements, voting machine malfunctions and voter intimidation.

Even that hotline can't help locate Dale Mallory, however. Running for state representative, he was one of the few Democratic candidates who didn't join his brother, Cincinnati Mark Mallory, when former President Bill Clinton came to town last week. For more about Dale Mallory's almost invisible campaign and other election tidbits, visit CityBeat's Porkopolis blog at citybeat.wordpress.com.



Porkopolis TIP LINES: 513-665-4700 (ext. 138) or pork(at)citybeat.com
 
 
 
 

 

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