by Hannah McCartney
47 days ago
Over-the-Rhine, Central Business District march comes amisdt Justice Center debate
If you had to guess how many people are in Cincinnati are considered homeless, what would be your guess? Would it be anywhere near 7,000? That's the number of Cincinnatians cited in a 2012 report
from Strategies to End Homelessness that are either staying in shelters or in places
not meant for human habitation.
The Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition will coalesce to recognize the plight of those 7,000 when it
holds its annual Homeless Awareness March on Saturday, Oct. 26 starting
at 3 p.m. at Buddy’s Place, a permanent housing facility
for the homeless located at 1300 Vine St. in Over-the-Rhine. Josh Spring, executive director at GRHC, says the march will explore areas in Over-the-Rhine and the Central Business District particularly plagued by homelessness. There will be about 10 stops, each of which will be marked by a speech from representatives of several advocacy groups, including the Interfaith Workers' Center, OTR Community Housing, Streetvibes, People's Coalition for Equality and Justice and the Drop Inn Center.
The march comes at a particularly auspicious time for
GRHC, which recently helped four homeless plaintiffs file a lawsuit
against the Hamilton County Sheriff’s office for depriving homeless
people of their constitutional rights by threatening to arrest people
who sleep or inhabit the common areas around the Hamilton County
Courthouse and Hamilton County Justice Center downtown.
Those areas have recently become the center of a public
health debate between groups like GRHC and county officials, who have been forced to clean up urine
and feces left behind the homeless and argue they
just don’t have the resources to keep up. The GHRC held a protest on Oct. 16 in front of the courthouse asking Sheriff Neil to rescind the policy, the same day the lawsuit was filed. In an effort to compromise, Spring and other supporters have asked the county to at least wait to stick to the policy until the winter shelter opens in December, but county officials are hesitant to ignore the cleanliness problem for that long.
Advocates such as Spring, however, argue the city should
take a “prevention first” approach instead by figuring out what will
keep Cincinnatians from becoming homeless in the first place.Spring says he hopes the march will draw both people who have come specifically to protest displacement and others who come to learn about the nature of homelessness in Cincinnati. "We really hope people walk away with some passion to go and do something about this," he says. Last year's march was centered around protesting Western & Southern's manipulative legal disputes with the Anna Louise Inn, which provides safe and affordable housing to low-income women. The battle came to an end in May when Cincinnati Union Bethel, which owns the Inn, signed an agreement with Western & Southern to move from Lytle Park to Mount Auburn.
November is National Homeless Awareness Month. Here are a
few volunteer opportunities in the Greater Cincinnati area to look into this winter.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Homeless advocates gathered in front of
the Hamilton County Courthouse on Oct. 16 to speak out against the
county sheriff’s attempts to evict homeless people sleeping at the
courthouse and Hamilton County Justice Center and threaten jail time.
by German Lopez
56 days ago
First streetcar tracks set, homeless to sue county, Medicaid expansion expected to pass
Early voting for the 2013 City Council and mayoral elections is now underway. Find your voting location here. Normal voting hours will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., although some days will be extended.Cincinnati yesterday laid down the first two streetcar tracks,
putting the project on a clear path to completion after years of
financial and political hurdles. The $133 million project is now
expected to continue its construction phase over the next three years, with a goal
of opening to the public on Sept. 15, 2016. City officials, including
Mayor Mark Mallory and City Manager Milton Dohoney, celebrated the
milestone and thanked supporters for remaining committed to the project. Meanwhile, former
Councilman John Cranley, a streetcar opponent who’s running for mayor against
streetcar supporter Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, criticized the city for
laying down the tracks instead of delaying the project until a new mayor
takes office in December. Cranley insists that he’ll cancel the project
if he takes office, even though roughly half a mile of track will be
laid out by then and, because of contractual obligations and federal
money tied to the project, canceling the project at this point could cost millions more than completing it.
The Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition yesterday announced it’s suing the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department
over a new policy that attempts to remove homeless people from
courthouse steps with the threat of arrest. The sheriff’s office says it
still intends to redirect homeless people to housing and other
services, but it told WVXU that clearing out the courthouse is necessary
to invoke a “type of immediacy” to encourage homeless residents “to
seek housing and a better situation.” Advocates call the policy
dangerous and unfair. A press conference will be held later today to
discuss the lawsuit.
State Senate President Keith Faber says he expects Gov.
John Kasich’s proposal for a two-year, federally funded Medicaid
expansion to gain approval from a seven-member legislative oversight panel
known as the Controlling Board. Faber, a Republican who opposes the
expansion, says it’s now time for the legislature to consider broader
reforms for Medicaid, which provides health insurance to low-income and
disabled Ohioans. After months of wrangling with legislators in his own
political party to approve the expansion, Kasich, a Republican, on
Friday announced he would bypass the legislature
and instead ask the Controlling Board to approve federal funds to
expand Medicaid eligibility to more low-income Ohioans for two years.
The Health Policy Institute of Ohio previously found the expansion would generate $1.8 billion for Ohio and insure nearly half a million Ohioans over the next decade.
Mayor Mallory says the Millenium Hotel’s owners agreed to conduct a feasibility study to see what kind of renovations the market will support for the hotel. Mallory told The Cincinnati Enquirer that the agreement is the first sign of progress since discussions about overhauling the shabby hotel began.
To tackle concerns about second-hand smoking, one state senator proposed a bill
that would ban smoking in a car when a young child is present. It’s the
second time in two years State Sen. Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus)
introduced the bill.
Allegiant Air will offer low fares
to fly to Florida from Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International
Airport (CVG), ending months of speculation over whether the airline
would pick CVG or Lunken Airport.
A state audit released on Tuesday found a local water worker was paid $437 in 2001 for work that wasn’t done.
Cincinnati’s 21c Museum Hotel was named the No. 1 hotel in the country and tied for No. 11 in the world in Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards.
Scientists found a way
to block the dopamine rush associated with THC and make marijuana un-fun
to help people with a psychological dependence on the drug.
by German Lopez
55 days ago
Shutdown ends, homeless sue county, Requiem makes demands in battle for Emery Theatre
Early voting for the 2013 City Council and mayoral elections is now underway. Find your voting location here. Normal voting hours will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., although some days will be extended.
Congress last night voted
to end a partial government shutdown that lasted for more than two
weeks and avoid defaulting on the nation’s debt. In the end, House
Republicans, including Speaker John Boehner and local Reps. Steve Chabot
and Brad Wenstrup, got less than nothing for their threats of default
and shutdown: Obamacare wasn’t repealed or delayed, taxes weren’t cut
and federal spending remained flat. Instead, Republicans were left with the worst polling results
Gallup measured for either political party since it began asking the question in 1992. Meanwhile, President
Barack Obama and congressional Democrats got the clean budget and debt
ceiling bills they were asking for all along. But the funding measures only last until Jan. 15 and the debt ceiling increase remains until Feb. 7,
leaving some groups on both sides of the aisle to ask whether the
dramatic showdown will happen all over again in a few months.
Four local homeless sued Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil
over his attempts to evict homeless people sleeping at the courthouse
and Hamilton County Justice Center with the threat of jail time.
Homeless advocates argue the policy punishes homeless people for being
homeless; they say the county should focus on creating jobs and housing
opportunities, not arresting people who are just trying to find a safe
spot to sleep. But the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office says it’s
addressing a public health issue; Major Charmaine McGuffey, head of the
Hamilton County Justice Department, says that every morning county
officials are forced to clean up urine and feces left by the homeless
the night before, and often the county doesn’t have the resources to
completely disinfect the areas.
In the ongoing legal battle for the Emery Theatre, the Requiem Project amended its lawsuit
against the University of Cincinnati and lessees and asked the courts
to remove UC from ownership of the building. Requiem argues UC has
failed to live up to the goals of Mary Emery’s charitable trust by
allowing the building to fall into disrepair and non-use over the years.
Courts originally approved the development of apartments in the
building as long as the profits went toward renovating the theater, but
after 14 years apartment operators say there are multiple mortgages on
the property and no profits. The trial is scheduled for February.
Commentary: “Governor Finally Accepts Federal Funds.”
Now in print: Mayoral candidate John Cranley, who’s running for mayor against fellow Democrat and Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, rejected support
from the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST),
and the conservative organization’s history of anti-LGBT causes helps
Qualls scored higher across the board
than Cranley in the scorecard released today by the African-American
Chamber of Commerce. Gene Beaupre, a political science professor at
Xavier University, previously told CityBeat that the black vote
will likely decide the mayoral election. Council candidates Charlie
Winburn, P.G. Sittenfeld, Vanessa White, Yvette Simpson, David Mann and
Pam Thomas also topped the scorecard.
Ohio House Republicans may sue
Gov. John Kasich for his decision to bypass the legislature and instead
get approval from a seven-member legislative panel for the federally
funded Medicaid expansion, which would use Obamacare dollars to extend
eligibility for the government-run health insurance program to more
low-income Ohioans for at least two years. The Health Policy Institute
of Ohio previously found the expansion would generate $1.8 billion for
the state and insure nearly half a million Ohioans over the next decade.
CityBeat covered Kasich’s decision in further detail here.
Meanwhile, the Ohio House and Senate are debating three different ways
to approach an overhaul of Medicaid and bring the program’s costs down.
State Rep. Barbara Sears’ bill pushes for a swathe of reforms and cost
controls, while State Rep. John Becker’s bill aims to significantly
weaken the program to the absolute minimums required by the federal
government. Becker’s proposal would likely leave hundreds of thousands
of low-income Ohioans without health insurance.
Speaking in Cincinnati yesterday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the federal government is working to correct the many errors plaguing Obamacare’s online marketplaces. The glitches and traffic overload have made HealthCare.gov,
which acts as Obamacare’s shopping portal for Ohio and 35 other states,
practically unusable for most Americans since the website launched on
Ohio’s prison agency reassigned
the warden and second-in-command at the Correctional Reception Center
weeks after Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro was found dead in his cell.
A 20-year-old woman is expected to recover after her car crashed into a Winton Hills building while she overdosed on heroin, according to Cincinnati police.
Cincinnati is the only Ohio city to make Livability.com’s top 100 places to live.
Headline: “Bad sperm? Drop the bacon.”
A new study argues ancient climate change led early humans to adapt and evolve.
by German Lopez
55 days ago
Advocates say tactic focuses on the wrong problem
Homeless advocates gathered in front of the Hamilton
County Courthouse on Wednesday to speak out against the county sheriff’s attempts to evict homeless people
sleeping at the courthouse and Hamilton County Justice Center with the threat of jail time.
The press conference came on the same day that four local homeless filed a lawsuit
in federal court claiming Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil’s new
policy is cruel and unusual because it punishes people for being
Charmaine McGuffey, head of the Hamilton County Justice Department, says the policy is necessary to address a public health issue. She explains that every morning county officials are forced to clean up urine and feces left by the homeless the night before, and often the county doesn’t have the resources to completely disinfect the areas.
Josh Spring, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati
Homeless Coalition, says county officials should stop using taxpayer
money to address public defecation and focus on the
state of the economy. He’s asking locals to tell county officials, “I want my government to invest in
jobs and housing, not in pushing people to the margins.”
If the policy remains, Spring says the county could at
least compromise and hold enforcement until the winter shelter opens,
which would provide another housing opportunity for many of the homeless
people who currently rely on county buildings for a safe spot to sleep.McGuffey says the current timeline for the winter shelter opening — two months — is too much time to wait for what she describes as a public health issue. She says it’s also unclear whether local organizations, which are still gathering funds for the shelter, will have enough money to open it.
At the press conference, Spring was joined by several
homeless people who shared their experiences. All the speakers echoed a
similar theme: They’re not homeless by choice, and they only sleep on
county property because it’s much safer than the alternatives, such as
alleys and abandoned buildings.McGuffey insists no one is trying to demonize homeless people. She says officers try to link homeless people with local human services when possible. Some of that outreach is already underway through trained officers and neighborhood liaisons, and starting next week the county will bring in a trained mental health professional to act as an advocate and outreach coordinator.But if help can’t be found, McGuffey says officers have to threaten arrest to invoke a “sense of immediacy” or homeless people might never leave the properties and the public health issue would go unaddressed.So far, the sheriff’s office sees the program as successful. Over the past four weeks, it’s brought down the amount of homeless people camping out at the Hamilton County Courthouse and Justice Center each night from 40 to 12, according to McGuffey. She says the reductions exemplify people who were redirected to human services, but there’s no hard evidence showing those people actually got help or whether the reduction is temporary.Spring says there aren’t enough human services to get all of the city’s homeless help. That, he claims, is the real problem that needs local officials’ attention.Over the past decade, City Council fell far short of its funding goal for human services,
which aid homeless and low-income Cincinnatians. Several council
candidates, including Chris Seelbach, Greg Landsman and Mike Moroski,
say increasing human services funding to 1 percent of the operating budget will be a
priority for them over the next few years. The increase would represent an
improvement, but it would still fall short of the city’s 1.5 percent goal.
Meanwhile, Strategies to End Homelessness aims to reduce homelessness in Hamilton County from more than 7,000 to roughly 3,500 over the next five years through an initiative backed by the city and county.
As part of Homelessness Awareness Month, Spring and other
advocates will march in support of homeless causes later this month. The
march will begin at 3 p.m. on Oct. 26 at 1300 Vine St. in Over-the-Rhine. The lawsuit:
by Hannah McCartney
62 days ago
Anywhere but here.
That's the common response when city residents are asked where group
homes for men and women experiencing homelessness and/or recovering from
drug or alcohol addiction should be operated.
While most citizens seem to agree that the group recovery facilities
like halfway homes and supportive housing are generally a good thing,
there's one point everyone seems to disagree on: where to put them.
Most recently, a 100-unit supportive housing development
that would house chronically homeless and disabled, low-income
individuals became the subject of much ire
when residents near the proposed site in Avondale complained the facility would
threaten the safety and revival efforts in an area already oversaturated
with low-income housing.
Now, a Ludlow, Ky., branch of a local entity operating
transitional housing facilities for recovering addicts across the
Greater Cincinnati area is facing scrutiny from the Ludlow Historic
Society, a small advocacy group that works to promote and preserve the
neighborhood's historic buildings.
In an email to society members obtained by CityBeat, Ludlow Historic Society President Ruth Bamberger wrote:While we believe that ex-addicts need housing, the
city has serious concerns with its ability under current law to control
or limit housing to this population. The Ludlow Historic Society is
likewise concerned because we are striving to maintain and improve our
housing stock in Ludlow, and especially make the city a desirable place
for young people to own their homes and raise their families.
Bamberger specifically cited concerns about the program’s
legitimacy, its proximity to schools and its affect on the Ludlow
New Foundations Transitional Living
(NFTL), a for-profit, private transitional housing operator founded in
2010, runs seven sober houses across the Greater Cincinnati area for men
and women who have successfully completed a detox or rehab program and
have been discharged from the court system.
NFTL also works with treatment centers and probation
officers to monitor residents entering the program. The program supports
itself completely from rental fees paid by patients in the program;
residents are charged $322 per month for housing, amenities and some
therapeutic and rehabilitation services.
Transitional living facilities for drug and alcohol
rehabilitation generally provide low-cost housing to people recovering
from addiction interested in getting their lives back on track, while
"halfway houses" usually cater to people recently released from
incarceration that need more rehabilitation to assimilate back into
Jason Lee Overbey, director for New Foundations
Transitional Living, thinks that Bamberger’s contempt is berthed from
misinformation and stereotyping. “New
Foundations is not low-income housing,” he says. “We are not a shelter.
We are an organization providing residents a safe place to reside —
with structure, observation and assignments — to begin and maintain
their journey in recovery."
Overbey says that all applicants go through an extensive
screening prior to being accepted. NFTL doesn't accept sex offenders,
arsonists or anyone with an open felony or misdemeanor warrant, and
prospective residents also have to commit to stay drug- or alcohol-free and maintain employment.
“The people that live in our facilities dress nice, they
smell nice, they’re educated,” he says. “A lot of our residents are
professionals themselves. They pay taxes, shop, go to church, give back
to the community in Ludlow. Who should we be more worried about, them or
someone anonymous in the neighborhood who could be violent or actively
The Ludlow, Ky., location, Elm Men's House, currently
houses 13 patients who have either willingly checked themselves into
the program and were accepted following a comprehensive application
process or ordered to live in one of the facilities by a court, although those mandated comprise less than half of NFTL's
The Historical Society held a private meeting on Tuesday,
Oct. 8 in Ludlow's City Council chambers with City Administrator Brian
Richmond. Overbey says the Historical Society has not responded to New Foundations' meeting requests. Neither of the two buildings encompassing the Ludlow facility are actually designated as "historic." There’s not much information on the
community ripple effects of transitional housing, although one 2010 study found residents were achieving
significant improvement or total abstinence, ultimately concluding:The
promising outcomes for SLH residents suggest that sober living houses
might play more substantive roles for persons: 1) completing residential
treatment, 2) attending outpatient treatment, 3) seeking non-treatment
alternatives for recovery, and 4) entering the community after criminal
The Ludlow Historic Society could not be reached for comment.
by German Lopez
83 days ago
State GOP restricts Obamacare, group fights homelessness, school grades linked to poverty
As the Oct. 1 opening date approaches for the Affordable Care Act’s (“Obamacare”) online marketplaces, outreach campaigns are beginning to take root and aim at states with the largest uninsured populations,
including Ohio and its more than 1.25 million uninsured. But the
campaigns have run into a series of problems in the past few months,
with many of the issues driven by regulatory changes and opposition from
Republican legislators at the state and federal level. So far, none of
the state’s “navigators” — the federally financed organizations that
will participate in outreach campaigns and help enroll people into
marketplaces — have been certified by the Ohio Department of Insurance
as they await completion of 20-hour federal training courses. Meanwhile,
some organizations have been shut out of the process entirely,
including Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, because of
regulations enacted by state Republicans.
Strategies to End Homelessness yesterday released its first annual progress report
detailing how the organization intends to reduce homelessness in
Hamilton County by half from 2012 to 2017. The main strategies,
according to the report: prevention, rapid rehousing that lasts six to
12 months, transitional housing for up to 24 months and permanent
supportive housing that targets the chronically homeless and disabled.
The goal is to reduce homelessness by using supportive services to get
to the root of the issue, whether it’s joblessness, mental health
problems or other causes, and ensure shelter services aren’t necessary
in the first place.
A new study found Ohio school performance is strongly tied to student poverty. Damon Asbury of the Ohio School Boards Association says the results shouldn’t make
excuse for low-performing schools, but he claims there are other
factors the state government should consider when grading schools,
including whether low-performing schools actually need more, not less,
funding to make up for a lack of resources. Greg Lawson of the
conservative Buckeye Institute seems to agree, but he says his
organization, which supports school choice and vouchers, will soon
release a study showing no correlation between state and local funding
and student performance.
CityBeat commentaries:• “Republican Prudes Hold Down Ohio’s Economy.”• “Poor Jenny, Poor Cincinnati.”
The Cincinnati Enquirer yesterday held its endorsement interviews with mayoral candidates Roxanne Qualls and John Cranley, with some of the highlights posted here. Also, check out CityBeat’s previous Q&A’s with the candidates: Qualls and Cranley.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says the state’s Identity Theft Unit has received 600 complaints and helped adjust $250,000 in disputed charges since its creation last year.
Libertarian Charlie Earl yesterday announced he’ll run in the 2014 gubernatorial race. Earl served in the Ohio House from 1981 to 1984 and ran unsuccessfully for secretary of state in 2010.
Cincinnati State is getting a $2.75 million federal grant to expand the school’s manufacturing program in the region.
Cincinnati Children’s is testing a new bird flu vaccine.
The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County received the Auditor of State Award with Distinction for a clean audit report.
A new study suggests people act more selfishly when interacting with wide-faced men.
by German Lopez
83 days ago
First progress report outlines strategy, initial outcomes
Strategies to End Homelessness on Wednesday released its first annual progress report
detailing how the organization intends to reduce homelessness
in Hamilton County by half from 2012 to 2017. That means reducing the
county’s homeless population of more than 7,000 to roughly 3,500 in five
The plan doesn’t focus on providing shelter services to the
needy; instead, Strategies to End Homelessness is advocating tactics
that prevent homelessness entirely and attempt to permanently address
The main strategies, according to the report: prevention,
rapid rehousing that lasts six to 12 months, transitional housing for up
to 24 months and permanent supportive housing that targets the
chronically homeless and disabled.
For the organization, the goal is to reduce
homelessness by using supportive services to get to the root of the issue, whether it’s joblessness, mental health problems or other causes, and ensure shelter services
aren’t necessary in the first place.
“Of the various types of programs within our homeless
services system, households served in prevention were least likely to
become homeless within the next 24 months,” the report reads. “Among
supportive housing programs, Rapid Rehousing programs cost less, serve
households for significantly shorter periods of time, and have increased
long-term success compared to other supportive housing program types.”
The cost savings get to the major argument repeatedly
raised by homeless advocates: If society helps transition its homeless
population to jobs and permanent housing, governments will see savings and new
revenue as less money is put toward social services and the homeless
become productive economic actors who pay taxes.
Prevention in particular had particularly strong financial
results, according to the Strategies to End Homelessness report: “In
2012, the estimated average cost per person served in homelessness
prevention was $787, which is 60 (percent) less than the estimated cost
of $1,322 per person served in an emergency shelter.”
Meanwhile, permanent supportive housing topped the list of costs, coming in at an average of $6,049 per person.
Despite the ambitious goals and promising results, the
group’s prevention program has run into some problems. The federal
government never renewed temporary federal stimulus funding that was
financing a bulk of the prevention program, which cut off a major source
of money starting in July 2012. Strategies to End Homelessness managed
to pick up funding later in the year through the federal Emergency
Solutions Grant, but the financial support is much more modest,
according to the report.
Still, Strategies to End Homelessness appears undeterred.
The report claims 78 percent of shelter residents transitioned to
housing in 2012. The organization intends to continue prioritizing its
resources to achieve similar sustainable outcomes in the next few years.
Strategies to End Homelessness is a collaborative that
pools local homeless agencies, including the Drop Inn Center, Lighthouse
Youth Services and the Talbert House, to tackle homelessness with a
less redundant, more unified strategy.
In 2009, City Council and Hamilton County commissioners
approved the organization’s Homeless to Homes Plan to “ensure that
homeless people receive high-quality emergency shelter with
comprehensive services to assist them out of homelessness.”
But the plan has run into some recent problems. The
permanent supportive housing facility proposed for Alaska Avenue in
Avondale has been met with community resistance, which convinced City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee on Monday to place a two-week hold on the project while an independent mediator helps the two sides reach a compromise.
In Cincinnati, homelessness-reduction efforts have also obtained less local support in the past decade as City Council consistently fails to uphold its human services funding goal.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 18, 2013
City Council placed a two-week hold on a controversial supportive housing project in Avondale as mediators work out community concerns.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 18, 2013
If you have ever been past these places
at twilight, just as the exterior lights are coming up, the dichotomies
of our shadowy citizens “living” near a casino in proximity to two
entertainment districts are illuminated as the houses of justice become
the beds and toilets for the indigent.