Sunday, January 12, 2003

Whose turn is it to help the poor?



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Let me describe my neighborhood. People are always running around there. Literally. I guess they are training for the Flying Pig Marathon. Or maybe they are just trying to sneak a peek at me in the mornings. And who could blame them? I am quite an erotic sight in my shaggy terrycloth bathrobe and Minnetonka moccasins.

Most runners are so polite that they avert their eyes as I bend over to collect my Enquirer. Or maybe they are just afraid if they allow themselves to look they will be overcome by lust.

My husband and I can walk to 27 restaurants from our house. I can also walk to Mairose grocery, which offers exceptional pot roast and commentary from the butchers. We often are at odds politically, but they forgive me because my heart is pure.

My favorite specialty shop is the Pine Door on Edwards. Lucy, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who owns Joan Peck, who owns the shop, knows me. As does Char Tsai at Doodles. The man at the register at First Watch knows me so well that he hides the jar of Star Brite mints when he sees me coming.

Bragging rights

All I'm saying is that I am lucky enough to live in a city neighborhood. I brag about it all the time, but I do not brag about our city's schools. With some notable exceptions, they are dilapidated and struggling.

Our house was expensive, more than we thought we could afford. Over the years, we have been notified regularly that Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes thinks it is even more valuable than we do. We wish there were fewer renters and more homeowners in the city to help pay for public schools. But we love our neighborhood, and we'd be sincerely ticked off if some federal agency came and loused it up.

So I surely understand the folks in Westwood and Northside who worry that Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority's plan to demolish English Woods will include more apartments for the poor in their neighborhoods.

The man who administers and spends $100 million a year in federal money as CMHA director, Don Troendle (pronounced Trundel), sighs. "We need to truly de-concentrate poverty, reposition neighborhoods."

And I would respectfully suggest that the logical place to start is in the suburbs. Poverty is a human problem, an American problem, and our city has done more than its share for the past 100 years. When we say that public schools are in trouble, we generally are not referring to suburban public schools.

More than 86 percent of Hamilton County's 21,359 subsidized housing units are in the city. Some - not a lot, but some - are in my neighborhood. I don't know which ones. CMHA has begun buying single-family homes and apartment buildings outside the city, and 11 suburbs have rejected federal money in an attempt to discourage low-income housing.

We city folks love the suburbs. We often go there to shop. Frankly, we wish we had more to offer in return. More shopping, more nightlife, even more restaurants. But, as for the offer of more poverty, I'd say thanks but we already have plenty.

E-mail lpulfer@enquirer.com or phone 768-8393.




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ENQUIRER COLUMNS
PULFER: Whose turn is it to help the poor?
BRONSON: No excuse for Demagoguery 101
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