WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
September 16th, 2013 By Hannah McCartney | News | Posted In: News, City Council, Homelessness

City Committee Puts Commons at Alaska Project on Hold

Independent mediator will work with supporters and opposition

news1_jf1.wideaPhoto: Jesse Fox

The controversial proposed supportive housing facility for Alaska Avenue in Avondale was the main subject of a heated session of City Council's Budget and Finance Committee today, which resulted in the committee's decision to put the project on hold for two weeks. The committee also announced its intent to allocate $5,000 for an independent mediator, which the city administration will be responsible for finding.

A slew of Avondale community members spoke out in opposition of the project, while representatives from National Church Residences (NCR), Josh Spring of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition and Kevin Finn of Strategies to End Homelessness were some of those who publicly expressed support for the project. Many in opposition articulated concern that predominantly poor black neighborhoods such as Avondale are "targeted" for low-income housing projects like these, while supporters insist a spread of misinformation is largely responsible for the tension and that the complex is a necessary step in moving forward with the city's 2008 Homeless to Homes Plan, which explicitly cited NCR as the well-regarded nonprofit developer and manager of supportive housing facilities commissioned to bring a permanent supportive housing facility to the city. 

The proposed project, coined Commons at Alaska, would be a 99-unit facility providing residency and supportive services to the area homeless population, particularly those with with severe mental health issues, physical disabilities and histories of alcohol and substance abuse.

The project, which gained City Council's official support in February, has recently come under scrutiny from community group Avondale 29, Alaska Avenue residents and other community stakeholders who are fervently expressing public distaste for the facility, which they worry will threaten the safety and revitalization efforts in the neighborhood. CityBeat covered the controversy here.

Councilman Smitherman, who originally voted against Council's support for the project in February, vocally expressed his opposition, and later, Councilman Winburn rescinded his support for the project.

"It appears that maximum citizen participation did not happen... you are having hundreds of people who are not ready yet for this project. So something went wrong somewhere," he said. 

Winburn was also the one to announce the motion that asked council to suspend the project for two weeks.

Both sides are expected to once again go in front of the Budget & Finance Committee on a Sept. 30 meeting


 
 
09.17.2013 at 07:57 Reply

The developer, NCR, says  opposition is based on the spread of misinformation.  By whom I ask.  A29G uses information pulled from NCR's website and documents received following a Freedom of Information request. Misinformation was communicated by NCR to A29G prior to our getting the facts from the FOI documents. One example, we were told by NCR that no one with a criminal backgroud could live in the facility.  FOI documents reveal that some who are approved will have moderate to severe criminal offenses. Had NCR used their own published best practices for community engagement, with transparency and honesty , much of this could have been avoided.

 

 
 
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