Posts Tagged ‘Those Without Housing’

Unspoken, And Unaccounted For

May 24, 2022

            Lots of continuous daily news dominates. In addition to the ever evolving Covid pandemic, there is the war in Ukraine, the politics of elections – current, past as well as upcoming – and the economy. Can’t forget the economy with its inflation, for which the preceding are given as reasons for its being. And here in Licking County Ohio the anticipated Intel workshop stains the daily news no matter what the reason (Analysis would say “sweatshop” but that’s no longer possible with the clean suits and clean rooms anticipated). Accompanying the near daily Intel stories are headlines like “280-acre commercial, industrial development coming to Harrison Township” (The Newark Advocate, 5-23-22) and other economic “growth” news. It is easy to overlook the weekly “Public Records” news published by The Advocate as this feature, easily obtained by the paper because it is a matter of public record (like the police blotter), has also been around for as long as, well, public newspapers. The 5-21-22 headline read “Public Records: Jersey Township property sells for over $4 million.” Both the headline, as well as the sale price, is not unusual. The history of area sales has been trending in this region for quite a long time. Market sale prices are not a “cause” of inflation, but certainly contribute. Scarcity is a primary “cause” of market pricing. Inflation’s poster child is the plethora of over priced flat screen TV’s available for immediate delivery. But Analysis digresses. It is hard to find “affordable” property transfers in the public records anymore. Million dollar plus sales are multiple each week. Most transfers are for residences in the 300K to 600K range. Below 100K is the exception. One thing unspoken with the market and inflation is that those earning a commission are experiencing a windfall despite doing no more actual work (labor) than if there were no inflation. Such is also the case with Licking County Ohio. For each $1,000 in sale price, the county receives a conveyance fee of $2. Considering, with Intel and all, that million dollar properties are now the norm, unexceptional, the County is taking in a premium of tax revenue without any additional labor. When it comes to County infrastructure spending (the “labor”), the County primarily draws on ARP, Federal Infrastructure Bill funding as well as State Intel assistance. Isn’t it time for Rick Black, Tim Bubb, and Duane Flowers to give back, and pay forward by investing public revenue in affordable public housing? The relationship between those without a house (the homeless), the scarcity of available affordable housing, and the million dollar real estate market couldn’t be any clearer.


Didactic Interlude

October 10, 2021

            This year’s Nobel Peace Prize recognized two journalists, Dmitry Muretov and Maria Ressa, “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace” No coincidence that here, in the polarized politics of the US of A, journalists are the favored whipping boy of diverse ideologies. Here, in central Ohio, journalism is essentially whatever the Gannett corporation dictates it should be, retaining ownership of just about all the small town papers as well as the Columbus Dispatch (and many more outside the state’s center). How does all this square up — ”the precondition for democracy,” the media being the source of the demise of democracy, and the monopoly on what locals are privy to see and know about their small towns? Today’s Newark Advocate provides some insights as to how this is. The headline “Newark south end residents say they live in fear in their neighborhood” (Kent Mallett, 10-10-21) is pretty sensational. It effectively positions the reader’s response. The extensive article starts off with “South end Newark residents say they live in fear of people they see on the streets who may be on drugs or struggling with mental health issues, probably homeless, and possibly stealing from the area.” It then transitions to being about a “problem” (the source of the fear), and what is being done about it (the community’s response). This then transitions into how the problem is being dealt with by the city (the community) which covers police and carceral services as well as non city behavioral health resources. Mayor Jeff Hall, who is on record as being opposed to spending any city resources to address the problem, is quoted by Mallett: “Mayor Jeff Hall told the residents, “I’m sorry that’s going on in your neighborhood. It is a complicated issue, it’s not an easy one to fix, but that doesn’t mean we ignore it. We’ll have discussion. When you come in, we talk about it, so it’s not to deaf ears, trust me, we do talk about it.”” The bulk of the article bemoans a lack of police resources, the Covid challenge at the County jail, and the hope for a new outreach program through Behavioral Healthcare Partners of Central Ohio. Interwoven throughout the reporting is the underlying tacit understanding that homelessness, and the homeless, are “the problem” (for if they had a residence they wouldn’t be generating fear throughout the neighborhood). “It is a complicated issue.” (Newark Mayor Jeff Hall) Really? If your gas gauge shows empty, you fill up with gas to solve the problem. Speaking of which, the city promoted the destruction of perfectly sound, inhabitable community housing stock for the sake of the development of an urban truck stop on N 21st street (with no provisions for replacement). Mallett does let this slip (just barely) with: “The federal moratorium on evictions ended recently, and Licking County evictions have increased from 136 in the first quarter of the year to 158 in the second quarter to 219 in the third quarter.” But this is followed up by a one line nod to a grassroots effort to address this debacle. Analysis finds the bulk of the article to perpetuate the misinformation that homelessness and the homeless are “the problem” not able to be solved by city government resources. It furthers the misconception that evictions, as well as being without a house, are inextricably linked with criminality, mental health, and a lack of moral compass (aka personal responsibility). “It is a complicated issue.” (Mayor Jeff Hall) Bull shit. Other cities, both here in the US of A as well as abroad, have dealt with it through providing housing for those without any. In Newark the misinformation molding the perception of those finding themselves without a house is reproduced and perpetuated by a monopolistic news journalism which bolsters the ideological polarity that undermines “the precondition for democracy.” Nowhere in Mallett’s report was any alternative view, approach or outlook on the matter of housing those without a house presented. Across the US of A (as well as elsewhere) the problem is being addressed and met. Why not here?

Home Rule

October 3, 2019

It has been about a year since Analysis wrote about Cleveland’s attempt to craft legislation creating a program of public defenders for those being evicted (Will The Real Governing Body Of People Please Stand Up 11-29-18). This legislation was to be modeled on a hard fought, and somewhat imperfect, similar one in New York City. Analysis questioned whether the GOP legislature of the State of Ohio would allow such city rule to be implemented. They have, and had, neutralized home rule through gun control legislation and, with Cleveland, outlawing their percentage of Cleveland resident workers/contractors on city funded projects legislation. 10-1-19 Robert Higgs for reports: Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson signs into law program to provide lawyers for impoverished families facing eviction. With Cleveland’s creative solution to stem the growing problem of people without housing (nothing comes from nothing. One is displaced from some “place”) Analysis finds notable: “Cleveland City Council approved legislation to create the program Monday evening. The program is an effort to ease the upheaval that families face from eviction by giving them the ability to negotiate a better outcome through an advocate who knows the law. City Council President Kevin Kelley has said he hopes the program can be up and running by June 2020. United Way of Greater Cleveland is expected to manage the program, coordinating training for lawyers and getting them assigned to cases. Housing Court Judge Ronald O’Leary said Monday he expects a lot of eviction cases will be referred to mediation for settlement.” “Roughly 10,000 eviction cases are filed each a year in Cleveland, according to the Legal Aid Society, which provides lawyers for some clients with incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty rate. Landlords have a tremendous advantage when the cases come to Cleveland Housing Court because only 1% to 2% of tenants have legal representation, Legal Aid’s research shows. About 75% of landlords appear with lawyers for eviction proceedings.” How many eviction cases are filed in Newark each year? With a census figure of approximately 48% of Newark residential housing being non-owner occupant, Analysis would surmise quite a few. Is such a creative solution to a justice disparity on the horizon of any of the candidates running for political office in Newark in 2019? The “legacy” minded incumbent for mayor is mum, hoping his “Outside the city” solution is not memorialized. The “cheerleading” challenger finds little enthusiasm amongst voters for tackling the inequity of eviction (private property rights and all). And those vying for the various city council positions? They’ve all committed to a vow of silence. The good news is that so far the legislators in the Ohio House and Senate haven’t quashed Cleveland’s creative attempt to stymie the national housing crisis. Let them know. Contact Republicans Scott Ryan and Jay Hottinger and thank them for allowing cities to exercise home rule with regards to the problem of those without housing.

This, That And The Other

September 15, 2019

September 15, 2019 found the Newark Advocate running similar coverage of the candidates for Municipal Court Judge. “Recovery a driving force behind Sutton’s campaign for judge” was a one-on-one by Michaela Sumner with Max Sutton (Advocate, 9-15-19). Sumner supplied an adjunct point of view from Irene Kennedy, LC Democratic Party member. Originally from Newark, Sutton addressed his personal past and its articulation with what he is presenting to be elected. Kennedy gave her opinion based on her acquaintance with Sutton as well as the functioning of municipal court itself. Sumner used the same format to cover Matthew George “Faith, family and friends help George in campaign for judge” (same day, same paper, same page). The adjunct point of view was provided by George’s best friend since 2002, Matt Parker. Neither are originally from Newark. The latter resides and is employed elsewhere. George spoke of the process leading up to his decision to run, and his qualifications for the job. Matt Parker spoke extensively of George’s being over qualified for the job, both in background and character, as well as ideological commitment. “Parker said “When (George) decided to run for office, it was pretty obvious that I would help him on his campaign.”” Turns out that Matt Parker isn’t just a GOP acquaintance. He is a professional “political consultant”. He is George’s campaign manager. Though the format for each “meet the candidate” coverage was the same, Sumner provided George with a twofer – his own words plus those of a professional retained to market his candidacy (the candidate in his own words plus an advertisement for the candidate). Analysis concludes that if this were a tennis match, the score at this point would be “Advantage George.”

And now for something completely different. Who says we can’t have this AND that? The incumbent mayor of Newark, running for a third term, received some affirmation, of sorts. The mayor’s stated position on those found in Newark without a house to call their own is that they should relocate elsewhere – anywhere but Newark, as long as it is outside Newark. Many cities across the country (large and small)  have deployed this strategy of shipping the indigent without housing to somewhere else; sometimes to a place of their choosing, sometimes not. Writing for the NY Times, Mike Baker reports “Homeless Residents Got One-Way Tickets Out of Town. Many Returned to the Streets.” (9-14-19). The article covers the various rates of recovery as well as failure of such an approach. Success seems to impinge on a well thought out specificity of outcome – a potential job, family, treatment facility, shelter awaiting those sent away by bus (maybe even plane), etc. Recidivism rates vary, though it is technically not a crime to be a person without housing. Sometimes the people returning are originally from the city that facilitated their removal. Sometimes they have been sent there after being removed by another city. In the 1930’s people without means rode boxcars. Today, “As cities see their homeless populations grow, many are buying one-way bus tickets to send people to a more promising destination, where family or friends can help get them back on their feet.” Only problem is, Mr. Mayor, Newark hasn’t had city wide scheduled bus service in years, let alone interstate. And the Hall administration has done nothing to address either problem – being without a house as well as being without a bus. Besides, ““Just shipping someone out of town to experience homelessness somewhere else is furthering the trauma that person experiences,” she [Lauren McGowan, senior director for Ending Homelessness and Poverty at United Way of King County, Washington] said, “and furthering this crisis that we have all over the country.””

Speaking of which Dear Leader is promoting the ultimate solution for “the other.” He advocates housing them in camps, just as is being done with “illegal aliens”, though no person, in and of themselves, can be illegal (that’s just not part of the law). Cynically, the point is they would be housed, thereby technically eliminating them as individuals without housing. Both they, as well as the cross border refugees (for whatever reason) find themselves in a curious position. They are physically (geographically) part of the state or city (the migrant concentration camps are located on US soil as well as the proposed facility for city dwellers without housing). They reside there. Yet they are de facto NOT considered residents of the country or city in which that camp or facility is found (not having the same rights and privileges of residency as those acknowledged to be members of the country or city). That would satisfy Mayor Hall’s demand that they not be part of the city while still being located there (much as having a post office box gets you mail but no vote to cast in an election). In short, they are warehoused out of sight as biblical lepers – minimally fed and sheltered by the religious community but kept completely out of reach of the secular (business) one.

Where’s Waldo?

May 24, 2019

Announcements of the past week included that the population of the City of Columbus is greater than that of San Francisco (but where’s your heart?). And that Newark is ostensibly in a class of only 4% of American cities – with a population over 50K. That means that about 24,000 people in Newark reside in non-owner occupant housing (give or take a few, but who’s counting?). And what of those with no house? “Community-based group aims to reduce chronic homelessness in Licking County” the online Newark Advocate reported (Michaela Sumner, 5-23-19). “In April, the ad hock community-based group, comprised of representatives from Newark Development Partners, United Way of Licking County, the Licking County Coalition for Housing, and others, joined in a series of stakeholder meetings to determine what they’re asking a consultant to do.” Who’s the consultant? The next line answers that. “Those meetings resulted in a proposed request for proposals, or RFP, defining the group’s priorities for a consultant to address in their study of homelessness in Licking County, according to Aaron Domini, who works for the Columbus community planning firm OHM Advisors.” Their website heralds “We are more than an architecture, engineering and planning firm. We are the community advancement firm.” Part of their Google representation gives “Newark, Ohio’s downtown square, designed by OHM Advisors, centers around the courthouse.” Indeed, that’s who did the “community advancement” that…. Well, you can only guess when it comes to those without housing. Analysis won’t say “ironic” but after the observations made in the previous post (Location, Location, Location 5-19-19), the consultation is misdirected, in the least. A bit farther in the Advocate report Sumner writes “Many groups suggested adding a representative from faith-based groups, education, and grass-roots organizations to what’s being called a tactical group, which will review the proposed RFP and select a consultant. Others had questions about who would be overseeing the consultant and getting regular updates, and concerns the consultant would also need to address pockets of homeless people in Heath and Buckeye Lake.” Consulting with an architecture and engineering firm to address concerns regarding the unseen, living in even more unseen residences, borders on obscene. Adding to this faith based belief that the “problem” can be addressed antiseptically by the same design logistics that provided roundabouts and gobble de gook downtown parking restrictions (park it elsewhere but don’t overstay or you’ll pay) is more faith based groups. Indeed, when it comes to more, then houses of worship are up there in the 4% category. Unfortunately, Analysis was unable to locate a data base numbering the “faith-based groups” in the 50K city but guesses it is quite extensive. Why do those unable to find housing go unseen within such a panoply of houses of worship? The Islamic mandate of Hajj requires “stoning the devil” as part of the ritual. The devil meets even less sympathy amongst the other Judeo-Christian originations. One curious and revealing variant is the “Prosperity Gospel.” Wiki gives insight with “Prosperity theology views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, he will deliver security and prosperity. The doctrine emphasizes the importance of personal empowerment, proposing that it is God’s will for his people to be blessed. It is based on interpretations of the Bible that are mainstream in Judaism (with respect to the Hebrew Bible), though less so in Christianity. The atonement (reconciliation with God) is interpreted to include the alleviation of sickness and poverty, which are viewed as curses to be broken by faith.” Analysis finds being sick and/or poor to be functionally one step removed from being the devil incarnate. Who wants a curse in the proximity of their wonderfully designed and engineered downtown square? What kind of an antiseptic engineering solution do you think the courthouse square design team will come up with? It is not only the mayor who wants those unable to afford non-owner occupant housing to relocate out of the design, but the entire city government prefers to throw stones at the devil rather than reconcile with humanity. Collecting money on “sin taxes” is a wonderful thing, but when it comes to zoning the location of “curses,” we find ordinances keeping such entities well away from residences, schools, and churches. Left to houses of worship and architectural designers, where will the unseen, living in unseen residences, be located?