1 Comment · Wednesday, December 18, 2013
As some council members discuss shutting down a permanent housing project in Avondale, a study finds the facility wouldn't damage the neighborhood.
by German Lopez
Feds won't extend streetcar deadline, streetcar closer to ballot, study backs housing projects
The Federal Transit Administration told Mayor John Cranley
and streetcar supporters that it won’t extend its Dec. 20 deadline for
federal grants funding roughly one-third of the $132.8 million street
project. Without the federal grants, the project would likely die
because local officials say they are not willing to make up the loss with local
funds. That means the city has until Friday to decide whether to
continue the project — a decision that could come down to City
Council’s swing votes, Kevin Flynn and David Mann, and whether private
contributors agree to pay for the streetcar’s annual operating costs over the next three
decades.Meanwhile, streetcar supporters say they have enough
signatures to get the streetcar on the ballot. But without the federal
funds, a public vote might not be enough to save the project since the charter amendment only calls for using funds allocated as of Nov. 30, 2013.
While some City Council members might vote to rescind
support for state tax credits going to a supportive housing project in
Avondale, a study commissioned by the group in charge of the project
found similar facilities in Columbus don’t harm neighborhoods in which
they’re located. The study, conducted by two independent groups, found
crime continued to increase in most areas surrounding five supportive
housing facilities, but the increases were roughly the same as or less
than demographically similar areas in Columbus. Researchers
were also told in numerous interviews with Columbus residents that the
facilities had a positive effect or no impact on the area. CityBeat covered the controversy surrounding the Avondale facility in greater detail here.Hamilton County’s shrinking government might sell off
several downtown buildings to accommodate the size reduction. The
buildings could be converted to condominiums or hotels to appease high
demand for downtown residential space.
Despite previously criticizing tax breaks for Cincinnati
businesses, Chris Finney of the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending
and Taxes (COAST) will receive tax credits to open his own law firm in
Clermont County on Jan. 1. Addressing the so-called heroin epidemic is a top priority
for Ky. officials in 2014. Drug overdose deaths in Kentucky have
quadrupled since 1999, putting Kentucky’s numbers above every state
except West Virginia and New Mexico, according to a study released in
November.Some Ohio wildlife officers wrongfully
hunted deer while on the job, according to the state’s inspector
general.Ohio gas prices dropped in the last work week before Christmas.The Mega Millions jackpot could break last year’s record $656 million prize.A video game might help diabetics control their blood sugar by putting them through a genuine workout.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopez
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
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
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
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
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.