by German Lopez
2 hours ago
Report questions fears raised by opponents of Avondale housing project
Although some members of City Council appear ready to rescind support for a supportive housing project in Avondale, a previous study commissioned by the group in charge of the Avondale project found permanent supportive housing facilities cause no negative impact to neighborhoods in which they're stationed.The study, conducted by Arch City Development and the Urban Decision Group, was commissioned by National Church Residences (NCR) to gauge the neighborhood impact of five permanent supportive housing complexes in Columbus for the chronically homeless, disabled and poor."These projects have been very successful in achieving their primary goal of preparing and transitioning their residents to more independent living arrangements as they are ready," the study states. "However, there is a stigma attached to these types of facilities that often results in unsubstantiated fear and speculation that these facilities will introduce or perpetuate unwelcome changes in the neighboring community."The study found crime increases in most of the areas surrounding the facilities, but the increases were roughly the same as or less than demographically similar areas in Columbus.After interviewing Columbus residents located around the facilities, researchers also reported general agreement that the facilities had either no impact or a positive effect on the areas. Even though three of the facilities are located near four Columbus City Schools, Anne Lenzotti, director of facilities for Columbus City Schools, "has received no complaints about any Central Ohio permanent supportive housing project at the district or individual school level," according to the study.The study, with its generally positive findings, calls into question many of the complaints voiced by opponents of the Avondale project.Two members of a City Council committee on Tuesday agreed to advance a resolution
that would rescind support for state tax credits going to the 99-unit
supportive housing facility in Avondale. But since the project already
received state tax credits in June, it's unclear whether council's vote
would have any effect on the project's fate.Opponents of the facility argue it will worsen Avondale's problems with poverty, alter the look of the area and damage revitalization efforts. They also complain that NCR failed to conduct thorough community engagement prior to proceeding with the project.Proponents claim the dispute stems from a not-in-my-backyard attitude that follows so many supportive housing projects prior to their completion. They say more community engagement, beyond what's already occurred with Avondale Community Council, will begin deeper into the planning process and shape the project's parameters.The full body of City Council could take up the resolution rescinding support for the Avondale project on Dec. 18.Read the full study below:
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Cincinnati’s winter shelter opened on Dec. 10, days after a winter storm caused the city to declare a snow emergency, and will remain open through February.
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 11, 2013
A City Council committee voted
to rescind council’s support for a 99-unit
supportive housing facility in Avondale that would aid chronically
homeless, disabled and low-income individuals.
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Local leaders could once again prove how little they care about homelessness and poverty if they rescind their support for a housing project in Avondale.
by German Lopez
51 hours ago
Streetcar audit begins, streetcar campaign launches, committee opposes housing project
Work began yesterday on an audit of Cincinnati’s $132.8
million streetcar project, but streetcar supporters are upset the audit
will only look at the costs and not the potential return on investment.
The city hired KPMG, an auditing firm, to review the
streetcar’s completion, cancellation and operating costs by Dec. 19, the day the federal government says it will pull up
to $44.9 million in grants funding roughly one-third of the project.
Losing the federal funding would most likely act as a death blow for the
project, since most local officials — even some streetcar supporters —
say they’re unwilling to allocate a similar amount of funding through local sources. Mayor John Cranley and City Council asked for the audit before they decide whether to continue or permanently cancel the project.Meanwhile, streetcar supporters yesterday kicked off a
petition-gathering campaign to get a city charter amendment on the
ballot that would task the city with continuing the streetcar project.
But given the federal government’s Dec. 19 deadline, it’s unclear
whether the ballot measure, which could go to voters as late as May,
stands much of a chance. Streetcar supporters say they’ll lobby the
federal government to keep the funding on hold until voters make the
final decision on the project.A City Council committee yesterday voted to rescind council’s support for a supportive housing complex in Avondale that would
aid chronically homeless, disabled and low-income Cincinnatians. But
because National Church Residence already obtained state tax credits for the project in
June, it might be able to continue even without council
support. The committee’s decision comes in the middle of of a
months-long controversy that has placed neighborhood activists and
homeless advocates at odds. The full body of City Council could make the
final decision on its support for the project as early as today’s 2
p.m. meeting.City Council could also move today to repeal a
“responsible bidder” ordinance that has locked the city and county in
conflict over the jointly owned and operated Metropolitan Sewer
District (MSD). The conflict comes at a bad time for MSD, which is under a federal mandate to revamp the city’s sewer system. Councilman Chris
Seelbach argues the ordinance, which he spearheaded, improves local job
training opportunities, but opponents claim it places too much of a
burden on businesses and could open the city to lawsuits. CityBeat covered the issue in greater detail here.Some City Council members are concerned Interim City
Manager Scott Stiles’ compensation package could act as a “golden
parachute.”State Sen. Eric Kearney of Cincinnati yesterday resigned
as running mate for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald.
Kearney’s decision came after media outlets reported that he, his wife and his
business had up to $826,000 in unpaid taxes. The controversy grew so
thick that Democrats decided Kearney was too much of a
distraction in the campaign against Republican Gov. John Kasich.
An Ohio House Republican pitched a proposal that would
slightly increase the state’s oil and gas severance tax, but the
industry isn’t united in support of the measure. When it was first
discussed, the House plan was supposed to act as a downscaled but more
palatable version of Gov. Kasich’s proposal, which received wide
opposition from the oil and gas industry.Speaking against a bill that would tighten sentences
for nonviolent felony offenders, Ohio’s prison chief said the state is
on its way to break an inmate record of 51,273 in July. The state in the past few years attempted to pass sentencing reform to reduce the
inmate population and bring down prison costs, but the measures only
registered short-term gains. The rising prison population is one reason
some advocates call for the legalization and decriminalization of drugs,
as CityBeat covered in further detail here.More than one-third of Ohio third-graders could be held back after they failed the state
reading test this fall. But
the third-graders will get two more chances in the spring and summer to
retake the test. Under a new state law dubbed the “Third Grade Reading
Guarantee,” Ohio third-graders who fail the reading test must be held
back starting this school year.
Only 5,672 Ohioans signed up for new health plans through
the Obamacare marketplace in November. Still, total enrollment in
federal marketplaces was four times higher than it was in October as the
troubled Obamacare website (HealthCare.gov) improved. Reports indicate
the website also vastly improved right before the White House’s
self-imposed December deadline to get the website working better.William Mallory Sr., prominent local politician and ex-Mayor Mark Mallory’s father, died yesterday morning.A home kit allows anyone to find antibiotics in leaves, twigs, insects and fungi.
Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
3 days ago
Commons at Alaska in Avondale snared by controversy
A City Council committee on Tuesday voted to rescind
council’s support for state tax credits going to a 99-unit supportive
housing facility in Avondale that would aid chronically homeless,
disabled and low-income individuals.But since National Church Residences already obtained tax credits for the project from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency in June, it’s possible the project could continue even if council stands in opposition, according to Kevin Finn, executive director of Strategies to End Homelessness.
Still, the decision from the Economic Growth and Infrastructure
Committee comes in the middle of a months-long controversy that
has placed neighborhood activists and homeless advocates in a heated
dispute. (CityBeat first covered the issue in greater detail here.)
Independent Christopher Smitherman and Republican Amy
Murray, the two present members of the committee, both voted to pull support from the project. The issue will now
go to a nine-member City Council, which consists of five Democrats, and
Democratic Mayor John Cranley.
Smitherman, chair of the committee, claimed the project’s issues spawned from a lack of community engagement.
“I want everybody to take a pause,” Smitherman said.
“Respecting our city, in my opinion, means that you do the community
engagement at the level that reflects the magnitude of what you want to
Smitherman’s comments followed testimony from neighborhood activists who oppose the facility and homeless advocates who support it.
Opponents insist they support policies addressing homelessness. But
they argue the “massive” facility would alter the neighborhood, worsen
Avondale’s problems with poverty and damage revitalization efforts.
Supporters claim the dispute stems from a not-in-my-backyard attitude that predominates so many supportive housing facilities.
“In our society, we have a tendency to say we don't want
‘those people’ in our neighborhoods. And history dictates to us that
conversations that start with ‘we don't want those people here’ don't
typically end well,” said Josh Spring, executive director of the Greater
Cincinnati Homeless Coalition.
Finn of Strategies to End Homelessness
said the facility is part of his organization’s Homeless to Homes plan, which council
previously approved to address Cincinnati’s struggles with homelessness. Finn’s organization aims to reduce homelessness in Hamilton County from more than 7,000 in 2012 to roughly 3,500 in 2017.
The Avondale facility could also help reduce Cincinnati’s high levels of poverty. More than half of Cincinnati’s children and more than one-third of the city’s general population live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey.The full body of City Council could take up the issue as early as Wednesday. Smitherman advised both sides to attend the council meeting and state their cases.Updated with additional information from Kevin Finn, executive director of Strategies to End Homelessness.
by German Lopez
3 days ago
FitzGerald could replace running mate, streetcar supporters seek vote, winter shelter opens
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald is
preparing to replace running mate Eric Kearney, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Kearney, a state senator from Cincinnati, has been under increasing
pressure to drop out of the race following multiple media reports that
uncovered he, his wife and his business owe up to $826,000 in unpaid
taxes. FitzGerald is running against Republican Gov. John Kasich in 2014.Streetcar supporters will seek a city charter amendment that would task Cincinnati with continuing the $132.8 million streetcar project. Supporters say the amendment will act as a
back-up plan if Mayor John Cranley and City Council decide to strike
down the project after completion and cancellation costs are reviewed
through an independent audit. But the Federal Transit Administration
says the city would lose up to $44.9 million in federal funding —
roughly one-third of the streetcar project — if the city government doesn’t agree
to continue with the streetcar before Dec. 19. If the charter amendment gets enough valid signatures to appear on the ballot, voters could decide on the issue as
late as May.Cincinnati’s winter shelter opened today and will remain
open through February, according to the Greater Cincinnati Homeless
Coalition. The opening comes after winter storms covered Cincinnati’s
streets in ice and snow and sparked a citywide snow emergency over the weekend. The colder conditions will continue into the week,
according to the National Weather Service. It was originally unclear
whether the shelter would be able to open for its traditional
two-to-three months, but a $30,000 contribution from City Council helped
pave the way forward.The woman who was struck by a police cruiser in
Over-the-Rhine last month filed a lawsuit alleging the officer deliberately deleted
the dashboard camera video of the collision and lied when he claimed his
emergency lights and siren were on. The camera stopped recording for about three minutes right
before Officer Orlando Smith hit Natalie Cole with his cruiser. Police say the camera malfunctioned. But
the incident was the second time Smith’s camera stopped working in the
past year; previously, the camera failed to record during a shooting
that left one suspect dead and another wounded. CityBeat covered the issues surrounding cruiser cameras in further detail here.Councilman Charlie Winburn says the city wastefully
purchased and dumped 2,000 tons of road salt. Although other council
members on the Budget and Finance Committee appeared cautious of
Winburn’s accusations, he asked the city administration to
investigate the issue.
Ohioans can now enroll in an expanded Medicaid program,
which covers anyone up to 138 percent of the poverty level, or an annual
income of $15,856.20 or less. In October, a seven-member legislative
panel accepted federal funds to pay for expanded Medicaid eligibility
for two years despite resistance from the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature.
The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber named a new president and CEO.
The rover Curiosity found a former lake on Mars.
Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
4 days ago
Shelter to remain open through February
Cincinnati’s winter shelter for the homeless will open on Dec. 10 and
remain open through February, the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition
announced on Friday.
The announcement preceded a winter storm that covered Cincinnati’s streets in ice and snow and sparked a citywide snow emergency over the weekend. The snow flurries and colder conditions will continue into the week,
according to the National Weather Service.
It was originally unclear
whether the winter shelter would be able to reach its $75,000
fundraising goal to open for its standard two-to-three months. But
concerns were allayed after the previous City Council appropriated
$30,000 to help the shelter open.
For its run during the 2012-2013 winter, the shelter housed roughly 600 people.
“It’s a relatively cheap program to run,” Josh Spring,
executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition,
previously told CityBeat. “To serve about 600 people with $75,000 is pretty good.”
Although the shelter now expects to be open through February,
it could still use additional contributions to remain open into March
in case the winter is particularly cold and enduring.
The shelter is made possible by the Greater Cincinnati
Homeless Coalition, Drop Inn Center, Strategies to End Homelessness,
Society of St. Vincent De Paul and Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition
of Cincinnati. It’s supported largely by private contributions.
Contributions to the winter shelter and Drop Inn Center can be made at tinyurl.com/WinterShelterCincinnati. To contribute specifically to the winter shelter, type in “winter shelter” in the text box below “Designation (Optional).”
0 Comments · Tuesday, November 26, 2013
The Drop Inn Center and Cincinnati City
Center Development Corporation (3CDC) announced a deal on Nov. 22 to
move the region’s largest homeless shelter from its current location in
Over-the-Rhine to Queensgate.
by German Lopez
18 days ago
Drop Inn Center to move, sewer and water rates set to rise, CVG's losses cost region
The Drop Inn Center and 3CDC (Cincinnati City Center Development Corporation) on Friday announced a deal
to move the region’s largest homeless shelter from its current location
in Over-the-Rhine to Queensgate. The Drop Inn Center says the new
location represents “most of the things on our wish list, which is
fantastic.” And 3CDC has been pushing the shelter to move since it began
its efforts to revitalize the Over-the-Rhine and downtown area, which
some label gentrification. Josh Spring, executive director of the
Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, said in a statement that
government officials and developers should be helping maintain
affordable housing in all parts of the city instead of moving poor
people to other neighborhoods.
Local sewer rates could rise by 6 percent
and local water rates will skyrocket by 22.6 percent following proposed
price hikes from the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD). The higher
sewer rates are needed to help pay for a federally mandated sewer upgrade
that will cost $3.2 billion over 15 years, according to MSD officials.
MSD says the spike in water bills is necessary because water use is
declining and treatment costs are increasing.
The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) has lost more flights and seats since 2005
than any other major airport across the country, which effectively cost
the Cincinnati area 33,000 jobs and nearly $1 billion in annual
economic activity in the same time span, according to an analysis from The Cincinnati Enquirer.
The 78-percent drop in flights — far higher than the national average
of 19 percent — comes even as CVG’s average fares increased by 26 percent,
which were also above the national average of 4 percent.
Commentary from The Business Courier: “(Mayor-elect John) Cranley doubles down on streetcar cancellation.”
Supporters of Cincinnati’s $133 million streetcar project
will meet tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Cincinnati Hyatt Regency Ballroom
to discuss their options to prevent Cranley from stopping the streetcar
project. Supporters were recently reinvigorated by the current city
administration’s projections that canceling the streetcar project could cost nearly as much as completing it.
As Ohio’s Republican legislators move to adopt a stand-your-ground law, the research shows the controversial self-defense laws might increase homicides and racial disparities in the U.S. justice system.
Economists generally agree that state officials don’t play
a big role in changing the economy in the short term, but political
scientists say the economy will still play a major role in deciding Ohio’s 2014 gubernatorial elections.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald argues Republican Gov.
John Kasich deserves the blame for Ohio’s economy, given that Kasich
initially credited his policies for Ohio’s brief economic turnaround
early on in his term. But now that the economy is beginning to stagnate,
Kasich refuses to take the blame and points to congressional gridlock at the federal level
as the reason for Ohio’s slowdown.
Ohio paid nearly $1.2 million
for a string of charter schools that closed weeks after they opened.
The schools, which all operated under the name Olympus High School, are
now facing an audit and have been ordered to pay back some of the money.
A state job program for disabled Ohioans could lose millions in federal funds
after the U.S. Department of Education warned the state it is
improperly spending the money on case management and other
administrative activities. But the head of Opportunities for Ohioans
with Disabilities insists the state program is under compliance.
Ohio’s number of uninsured children is below the national average, according to a Georgetown University Center for Children and Families report.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is fast tracking business permits to outpace neighboring states.
With Thanksgiving looming, Ohio gas prices rose in the past week.
Migraine sufferers who also deal with allergies and hay fever might suffer from more severe headaches, according to a study from three medical centers that include the University of Cincinnati.Would you ride the world’s tallest water slide?Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez