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

Guest Writer Bill Woods: THE STATUS OF POLITICAL REFORM IN OHIO

Ohio state flag

What is the status of political reform in Ohio? After a year without any tangible success, two efforts go forward that have the potential for improving the health of the democratic process in this state.

Advocates who backed the unsuccessful 2012 Constitutional Amendment initiative to reform Ohio’s highly partisan redistricting procedures are now pinning their hopes on the work of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission. Established by the General Assembly in 2012, the Commission appears to be poised to adopt and then send on to the House and Senate a proposal that would greatly improve the way legislative district lines are redrawn every ten years. Copying a bill adopted by the Ohio Senate several years ago, the Commission would mandate that any new redistricting maps must receive the support of at least one member of the Apportionment Board representing the minority party. Furthermore, the new Board could not include any current members of the House or Senate. Read more ›

Posted in Cincinnati Forum

Cincinnati Lends Her Voice to National Conversation Calling for Solutions to Income Inequality

walmart food drive

Photo of Ohio Walmart from 2013 asking employees to donate food for other workers who are struggling so much they can’t afford to buy a Thanksgiving meal  for their families. (Photo from OUR Walmart)

I received an invitation last week to attend an event called “Town Hall Meeting: Addressing Inequality. Join us to discuss the impact of rising inequality in our communities and call on business and elected leaders to partner with us to find solutions.” I showed up a little late and was faced with a full parking lot at the Tryed Stone New Beginning Church in Bond Hill. I walked into a packed house of over 250 people that included elected officials, candidates, members and staff of various labor organizations, immigration reform supporters, and faith community leaders.

Conveners of the Town Hall included UFCW Local 75 (United Food and Commercial Workers) who represent over 30,000 members in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana who work in supermarkets, drug stores, food processing and packing plants, and health care facilities. Communities United for Citizenship/Comunidades Unidas para la Ciudadanía, who according to their facebook page are “community, faith, and labor groups in Greater Cincinnati area working cooperatively on issues of immigration and citizenship.” Their membership list includes an impressive number of local and regional groups that include: The AMOS Project, Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center, Faith Community Alliance, Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center, to name a few. Ohio Prophetic Voices was also a host, a faith organizing initiative formed in 2012 for Christians to work for racial and economic justice “in the public square”. Read more ›

Posted in Cincinnati Forum