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English woods gets treatment from the top

By Stephanie Dunlap · July 28th, 2004 · All The News That Fits
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Scream and They Will Come: Marcia Battle and other activists fighting to save English Woods agitated long enough and loud enough that they finally brought to Cincinnati the head of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) himself.

English Woods is the 1940s-era low-income public housing development built and administered by the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) using HUD funds. CMHA had sought to sell English Woods, which sits on prime land overlooking the city, to a private developer for market-rate housing. When HUD denied CMHA's demolition application in response to requests from residents, activists and local politicians, CMHA simply stopped maintaining or marketing English Woods, Battle and other residents say (see "Out of the Woods," issue of June 30-July 6).

HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson, who came to Cincinnati specifically to tour English Woods last week, seemed to agree.

"Some of his comments there was that it was a beautiful place, it was scenic and it looked really nice and he wasn't sure about the infrastructures, but from the outside it looked really good," Battle says.

Jackson, who has led public housing agencies in Dallas, St. Louis and Washington, D.C., should know. He also said that nothing can be torn down or sold without his permission, according to Batttle.

That same day, State Sen.

Mark Mallory -- who recently became a candidate for Cincinnati mayor in 2005 -- announced that he'd try to tap state funds to renovate a portion of English Woods.

Battle credits sheer perseverance for the coup.

"It's definitely a victory in favor of low-income people everywhere, in our entire city, not just me or not just English Woods, but for people to see that when we speak up our voice does matter, our vote does count," she says. "They always say, 'They don't listen to us, it don't matter, they're gonna do what they want to do anyway,' and I think that's not necessarily true.

"If we stand up and we stand up for the right thing and we scream loud enough and long enough, you make everybody so mad they're tired of hearing about your name. ... They're tired of hearing about it now, but they can't put it out of their minds, they can't take it off of their tongues. That's when things start to happen."

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Power to the People's Platform: The Rev. Damon Lynch III and actor Danny Glover unveiled the National People's Platform before about 500 "urban youth of color" in Boston last week because the Hip Hop generation must become engaged in effecting change, according to a press release.

Positioned as an alternative to the Democratic and Republican platforms, the People's Platform was released as a prelude to the Democratic National Convention in hopes that both parties would integrate its priorities into their presidential candidates' platforms.

The National People's Platform focuses on nine issues: new national priorities for a fair society; jobs, living wages and worker rights for all; racial, gender and economic justice for all; public social investment; a new internationalism, demilitarization and human rights; a just and sustainable global economy; sustainable communities and environmental justice; civil liberties; and real democracy. Find out more at www.citiesforpeace.org.

The National People's Platform was developed through a series of grassroots forums that started in Over-the-Rhine in September 2003 and continued in Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Boston and South Central Los Angeles. Lynch worked with Harry Belafonte, the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., and U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), who might now be best known for telling Michael Moore in Fahrenheit 9/11 that Congressmen didn't read the Patriot Act because they don't read most bills. Conyers had previously made a name for himself by sponsoring a single-payer health care bill (see "Health Care: A Right," issue of Aug. 27-Sept. 2, 2003).



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