Crimes of Hate: “You are not worthy, and when I attack you no one will care”

hate crimes against homeless pic

(Editor’s note: This article was originally published in Streetvibes in the August 14th-August 27 edition, a publication of the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless. Pick up a copy from a Streetvibes vendor today!)

The National Coalition for the Homeless based in Washington D.C. has recently published their annual report on hate crimes against the homeless titled, Vulnerable to Hate: A Survey of Hate Crimes and Violence Committed against Homeless People in 2013”.  The report breaks down the numbers and locations of murders and assaults against persons who were targeted simply because they were homeless. Among the disturbing trends? A 24% increase in hate crimes against homeless persons since last year (in 2013: 18 homicides and 109 violent attacks). Of these, Ohio accounted for 1 of the murders (Dayton), and 3 of the non-fatal attacks (Cincinnati, Canton, and Newark).

Just last week across the street from Washington Park three young men waited outside the Drop Inn Center (our local homeless shelter) and attacked John Hensley who was leaving the shelter to go to work. They did not steal any money or property, they simply laughed as they kicked and punched him to the ground. Read more ›

Posted in Cincinnati Forum

“Declaration of Respect”… 3 years later and still waiting

(Editor’s note: This article was originally published in Streetvibes, a publication of the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless.)

On Thursday, July 24, 2014 citizens converged in front of the Duke Energy Convention Center to protest Walmart CEO Bill Simon, who was scheduled to speak at the National Conference of the Urban League in downtown Cincinnati. Organizers of the rally made it clear they were not there to oppose the Urban League, but rather to bring attention to Walmart’s business practices that are contributing to America’s underemployment crisis. Rally participants handed out fliers with stark points: “As the largest employer of African Americans, Latinos, and women in the country, Walmart’s scheduling practices make it impossible for many of its workers to get the hours they need or to take the steps necessary to join the middle class. Hundreds of thousands of Walmart workers earn less than $25,000 a year and many cannot get enough hours to make ends meet.”

Courtney Moore works as a cashier at a Cincinnati Walmart. She was recently interviewed for an article in the New York Times (Part-Time Schedules, Full-Time Headaches by Steven Greenhouse July 18, 2014) bringing attention to the harsh realities part-time retail workers face across the country as they try and piece together an income. On the sidewalk in front of Duke Energy Center Courtney tells me her hours were drastically cut when she told management she had enrolled in school. Then when she was scheduled it was not consistent, was at odd times, and was for only 4-hour shifts. Workers receive their schedules only one week in advance. Courtney shares it is common practice for a worker’s hours to get cut if they call in sick, or ask for time off. “When I told them I was starting school they cut my hours so much I had to get a second job at McDonald’s.” I asked her are there raises? She replied, “Rarely. Cashiers make $8.35 an hour. I’m here today to ask the CEO to raise the wages.”

Courtney Moore photo (walmart rally interviewee #1)

Courtney Moore supporting better shifts and wages

Ms. Sophonisba also works for a local Walmart and tells me “I am here to support better working conditions, better wages, and regular hours for the associates.” Although Sophonisba is full-time and enjoys a relatively consistent schedule, many of her fellow workers are not so lucky. Read more ›

Posted in Cincinnati Forum

Classism rears its ugly head in “Letters to the Editor”

NIMBY!

Executive Director Elizabeth Brown of Housing Opportunities Made Equal (our local fair housing agency), had a letter published by the Cincinnati Enquirer “We need more, not less, housing assistance” on June 21, 2014. Two published responses to her article followed, the first asserts that since we have made “no progress” in solving this basic problem (housing), then it makes “no sense” to continue. I’m not sure I follow the logic (?). The second response to Elizabeth’s article is titled “Poverty clusters benefit no one” published on July 3rd. Within hours I had submitted my reply to Ms. Wong’s article. I haven’t seen that my response has been published, and as the days pass I suspect it won’t be. Fortunately The Cincinnati Forum exists to help give voice to alternative positions, and so here is my “Letter to the Editor”:

I always watch with interest as citizens rationalize and justify their opposition to the development of housing that is affordable for people whose incomes fall below the federal poverty line. The Cincinnati Enquirer’s editorial “Poverty clusters benefit no one” is no exception.  Perhaps it is my social work training that encourages “people first” language that has fine-tuned my listening to recognize discrimination. Perhaps is it my wearied awareness that the residents mentioned are not even referenced to as people – but as “concentrated poverty” as in Ms. Wong’s article. Read more ›

Posted in Cincinnati Forum

Testifying for Affordable Housing

meme for Manns motion 

(Thanks to Kate Gallion for this meme)

Over-The-Rhine has lost hundreds of affordable units since its “transformation”. On June 23, 2014 I joined over 20 affordable housing advocates at City Hall for the Budget and Finance Committee meeting. Many of us testified to support a motion by Vice Mayor Mann that would have required specific language resulting in the creation of affordable housing in the Preferred Developer Agreement for properties north of Liberty. Citizens have the opportunity to testify before Council at City Hall for 2 minutes, and below is my testimony I delivered to Chairman Winburn and the committee. Read more ›

Posted in Cincinnati Forum

Guest Writer Bonnie Neumeier: WHERE IS OUR SENSE OF COMMUNITY?

Editor’s Note: The following are the notes Bonnie Neumeier read from at the “Homes for All” Summit held at the Cincinnati Art Academy on June 6, 2014. Many attendees of the evening were moved by Bonnie’s words, and the Cincinnati Forum thanks her for sharing her notes with us so that they may be shared more widely.
 
OTR mural

I have lived in Over-the-Rhine for over 40 years. I paid $33 a month for my first apartment in Over-the-Rhine. Two of the apartments I lived in still had the owner living next door; or in the building I was living in. There were many more “Mom and Pop” landlords serving people with low incomes back in the early 70’s. I saw an advertisement the other day for the rental of a townhouse apartment for $2015 a month.

People in our neighborhood are a “displaced” people. Shoved off their lands when someone else found a reason to make a profit on the land we call home. We feared that when our neighborhood became an historic district, gentrification would follow. It has. We were 99 percent renters and 95% of our housing was substandard and needing upgraded and improved.

In 1973 a 65-year old male living with the disease of alcoholism was the face of homelessness. In 2014 that face is a 9-year old child. And the numbers continue to grow. In that picture something is tragically going wrong. Read more ›

Posted in Cincinnati Forum

Guest Writer Ted McCormick, Labor History Prof evokes Pope Francis: “The economy exists for the person, not the person for the economy.”

living wage pic 2

A ‘Living Wage’ is a salary based on cost such as food, child care, health care, housing and transportation, a living standard above the poverty line ($22,500) for a family of four. Fr. John Ryan in 1906 said, ”Wages should be sufficiently high to enable the laborer to live in a manner consistent with the dignity of a human being”.  A just economy reduces inequality by creating jobs that pay a living wage. Tax breaks and cheap loans by the government should require a living wage policy for their workers.

A 1968 minimum wage that kept up with inflation would be $10.56 today not $7.25.

LIVING WAGE

CINCINNATI-HAMILTON COUNTY

Adults and 2 Children $26.55 per hour

At 40 hours: $1,062.00 week, $4,248 month

MINIMUM WAGE

$7.25 per hour Kentucky

At 40 hours: $290.00 week, $1,160 month

$7.95 per hour Ohio

At 40 hours: $318.00 week, $1,272 month

 

Income for 2 minimum wage workers: $2,320 month

Family Expenses

Rent & Utilities: $800

Auto & Gas: $300

Child Care 2 kids: $1,200

Total: $2,300

 That leaves $20.00 left over for FOOD, HEALTH CARE, EDUCATION, RETIREMENT, FAMILY RECREATION Read more ›

Posted in Cincinnati Forum

May Day, May Day… I think we’ve been stood up

crowd michelle pic

In honor of International Workers Day on May 1, also known as “May Day”, a March occurred where hundreds of citizens processed from City Hall, to the Hamilton County Commissioner’s offices, to the Board of Elections. Some days have passed since the March, and I have the feeling I’ve been stood up by local Cincinnati press. I keep anxiously looking at the door, checking my phone… finally I’ve faced the fact. No coverage is coming. “That’s ok” I tell myself with resignation, “This is why I started ‘The Cincinnati Forum’.” In fact one of the driving principles of this blog is that women, communities of color, working people and other group’s voices are not fully represented by mainstream media, andthese perspectives should be included in public policy debate.

I have long been a history-lover, particularly when it comes to histories that have been hidden or subverted. It started in 8th grade when a High School teacher handed out Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History”, my first exposure to the real story of Christopher Columbus and the bloody battles for fair wages. Read more ›

Posted in Cincinnati Forum

Guest Writer Jason Lee Overbey: This is a Civil Rights Issue, Recovering Alcoholics and Addicts Protected by Fair Housing Act

recovery sign

Jason Lee Overbey shares his letter to the Greater Cincinnati Recovery Resource Collaborative with the Cincinnati Forum:

Greater Cincinnati Recovery Resource Collaborative (GCRRC):

I want to thank the Serenity House and Talbert House for working with New Foundations by sending residents to us over the years. I want to also thank you for your support over time, up until now. 

To the Prospect House, while you do not send any of your clients to us, several have come to us from their start at the Prospect House, and they are still with NFTL today.

I am personally indebted to the P House, as are several of my friends and loved ones. I love and esteem the work that the P House does. I will forever champion for the Prospect House and their dedicated staff and workers. The Prospect House is the best out there for post-detox treatment! 

We thank you all for laboring and fighting in the same field with us together. 

There seems to be some great confusion among your group, however. This email is to address some specific points with you in an attempt to provide you with all the facts.  Read more ›

Posted in Cincinnati Forum

Guest Writer Phil Roberto: “From Day Laborer to Temp Worker… Permanent Work Eludes Patience”

Patience Fuller has been working temporary jobs (day labor) for the past several years. It is tough to make ends meet working like this and the chances for getting hurt on the job are much higher than the national average—mostly due to the lack of job training. Even so, with the skills she has there are not many choices for Patience, and so she must apply the forbearance her name implies. Patience is actually part of a growing trend. Read more ›

Posted in Cincinnati Forum

Bill Messer’s Open Letter to City Council, City Manager: Look Elsewhere for Cost Savings

green cinci
The following letter was submitted to the Cincinnati Forum by Mr. Bill Messer who serves as the an executive committee member for the City of Cincinnati’s Environmental Advisory Council.

April 6, 2014

Dear Members of Cincinnati City Council and the City Manager,

Well it’s budget time of year again and once again the idea of eliminating or cutting the Office of Environment and Sustainability is being floated by some members of Council who are smart enough to know better but may think it a personally advantageous position politically and assume the public will buy the economic argument. However, as happened with the attempt to derail the street car, you’d best believe (in Cincinnati) that once the public is made sufficiently aware of the degree to which such an action by Council significantly costs/wastes rather than saves money, that basis for opposition to OES will deteriorate rapidly and the action become unsupportable. Let’s consider the issue more responsibly. Read more ›

Posted in Cincinnati Forum