BY CAMERON McWHIRTER
The Cincinnati Enquirer
A group of Cincinnati housing advocates gathered Thursday to oppose the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority's (CMHA) proposal to demolish the Lincoln Court apartments in the West End and replace the project with a smaller development for low-, middle- and high-income families.
Karla Irvine, executive director of Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME), which held the meeting at its offices, said all the participants agreed that Lincoln Court needed to be overhauled and they were not opposed to a mixed-income community, but "none of us want to see this done on the backs of poor families."
The meeting included representatives of the Legal Aid Society, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and Preserving Affordable Housing.
CMHA Executive Director Donald Troendle showed up at the meeting with staff to defend the proposal, which CMHA plans to submit to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on June 29. The $48 million plan, first reported Wednesday in The Cincinnati Enquirer, calls for the demolition of all 53 buildings at Lincoln Court, replacing them with attached town houses and a single 54-unit building for frail elderly tenants.
The new town houses would include 100 market-rate rentals and 50 market-rate homes. Two hundred housing units would be standard public housing, while another 100 rentals and 50 owner-occupied homes would have some form of public subsidy, but not as high as public housing subsidies.
The Lincoln Court Resident Council has supported the concept of demolition and construction, but it wants at least 400 units of public housing, not 200 as proposed. HOME and other groups endorsed that position Thursday.
Many at the meeting criticized the idea of the housing authority building market-rate homes while cutting back on public housing. "There is no shortage of market-rate housing in Cincinnati," said Donald Whitehead, director of the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless. "There is a shortage of affordable housing for low-income people."
Mr. Troendle stated repeatedly that "no resident that wants to stay at Lincoln Court will have to leave if they don't want to," but he would not commit to increasing the number of public housing units in the proposal.
A Lincoln Court resident who attended the meeting, Brenda Lee, said she just wanted to be assured that she could return to Lincoln Court once the renovations were made. After Thursday's discussion, she wasn't satisfied with CMHA's answers.
"We still don't know what shape this project is going to take," she said. "We still have questions that haven't been answered."