Issues with Redevelopment Issues

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Responding to this article in Citybeat, I am a member of TPCEJ

A few things:

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1) There has been systematic displacement for the last 20 years at least that has included using the police to forcibly evict residents who were paying their rents, landlords increasing rent on residents (who have no substantial protection against such increases), and the use of legislative and policing tactics to exclude residents from the neighborhood (esp. with the drug exclusion ordinance, and housing impaction ordinance). Furthermore, the empty buildings 3CDC is referring to are part of the systematic displacement. Neighborhoods like OTR don’t experience such rapid population decline (1990: 9572, 2000: 7831, 2005-5009: 4677) without external pressures. While 3CDC has only been involved for the last 10 years, they have been responsible for a great deal of displacement in OTR and downtown. An exact number is hard to find, but an investigation would quickly reveal hundreds of people displaced only by the actions of 3CDC. Displacement/depopulation/divestment must preceed redevelopment, it is a consistent part of the neoliberal urban process. Only when neighborhoods are sufficiently broken and redevelopers are able to buy property for a dollar, get tax credit for “new markets” and steamroll over existing residents and their concerns.

2) Pointing to crime as a reason 3CDC are doing the redevelopment is misdirection from their actual goal of profits. This article does not mention that 3CDC’s board consists of a few dozen chairpeople, media heads, etc of the some of the largest corporations and nonprofits in the region, including the Enquirer, Scripps, 5/3, P&G and Western & Southern. 3CDC is far from being the catalyst for the reduction of crime. They claim, for example, that they chose the location of their current office because there was a shooting that occurred there and it was near a school. That school was torn down as part of 3CDC’s renovation of Washington Park. Now, they are using the claim that it is dangerous for students at SCPA to learn near the Drop Inn Center as a reason to move the shelter. There was never any issues with the Drop being near Washington Park Elementary or Taft High School prior to the SCPA move. 3CDC and groups like DCI and the OTR Chamber use the police to intimidate residents into submission. The Chamber actually has federal housing dollars redirected towards increased patrols that they get to draw the routes for.

3) The Neighborhood can only have economic diversity (which 3CDC will often say ahead of “racial diversity”) while in flux. Neighborhoods can not exist in a stable state while having residents with competing class interests. This is made plain by what the trends has been for OTR over just the past 10 years: the closing of affordable stores and restaurants with expensive ones opening in their place, the consolidation of RESTOC and OTRHN into OTRCH, the removal of social service agencies like City Gospel Mission (and the accompanying pushback from business owners in Queensgate) and the Drop Inn Center, the attempt to create subsidized housing in Green Township. What this flux creates is a greater disparity: OTR was home to the most income disparate census tract in 2010, but it probably won’t be in 2020 after the gentrification spreads west and north of the Main/Vine corridor, especially when the streetcar is built. When that is the case, incomes will trend toward the higher end throughout the whole neighborhood.

Unless we stop it.