by German Lopez
45 days ago
Comprehensive surveys, profiles to be mostly privately funded
About 48 percent of Cincinnati’s youth are in poverty — a
statistic that has haunted Cincinnati and landed the city in third place
for the nation’s highest poverty rates. Now, Councilwoman Yvette
Simpson is trying to figure out the underlying causes to better
prioritize city programs.
At City Council’s Livable Communities Committee today,
Simpson and her staff gave a presentation supporting a citywide study
that would give an in-depth look at the city’s youth and their issues,
including crime, poverty, homelessness and educational opportunities. It
would be the first comprehensive study of the city’s youth.
The $175,000 study, which Simpson says would be mostly
funded through private donations, will work through three phases: Look
at existing data to set goals and expectations, conduct surveys with 500
parents and 1,500 youth and gather 40 in-depth youth profiles.
Simpson told CityBeat the study would help the city
establish better budget priorities for youth programs: “If resources
were abundant, how much would it take for us to really be able to make a
significant impact? But also understanding that resources aren’t
abundant, where should we put the resources in order to make maximum
With better priorities, Simpson says the city would also
be able to create better collaboration between the city’s many
individuals, agencies and organizations that currently work to address youth issues.
“When you work together, you’re going to be better,” she says.
That’s particularly important in Cincinnati, which Simpson
says is “very disparate” in terms of wealth and resources. Simpson says
she would like to leverage the city’s centers of wealth in a way that
would better benefit some of the poorer, needier areas.
Simpson says the study is necessary because there is a lack of local data for the city’s youth, with Cincinnati
Children’s Child Well-Being Survey being the only comprehensive local
study in recent years.
To Simpson, the importance of understanding the city’s youth and how their
situation can be improved has been validated by her personal experience.
“I was supposed to have a student shadowing me yesterday,
who’s a very, very capable young man, but he’s homeless,” she says. “He
didn’t show up yesterday because he slept outside the night before.”
Carrying out the study and recalibrating the city’s
programs to provide more consistency, whether it’s through education or
simply providing more permanent shelter, will have huge effects on the
city’s youth, Simpson says.
The Youth Commission of Cincinnati was formed in the
spring of 2012 to help local government establish better priorities and
policies for youth programs. The study, which has been under planning
and development since July, is meant to help accomplish those goals.
4 Comments · Thursday, January 3, 2013
I’ve been living in downtown Covington, Ky., since the
middle of July 2011. Having lived in Cincinnati for most of my adult
life and with a lot of that time working and/or living downtown,
Covington has been an adjustment for me. In my view, Downtown Covington
isn’t anything like the city across the river.
0 Comments · Thursday, January 3, 2013
Two homeless people helped rescue a man brutally attacked
in Over-the-Rhine after using an ATM; they warded off his assailant
until the police arrived. CINCINNATI +2
by German Lopez
Youthful prisons get mixed report, Leis to stay on public payroll, shelter move approved
Despite problems with staff and records, a report is calling changes to Ohio’s youth prisons system a model for the nation.
The report from a court-appointed monitor praised the Ohio Department
of Youth Services for reducing the number of offenders in secure
confinement and spreading services for youthful offenders around the
state. However, the report also points out staff shortages, inadequate
teachers and inconsistent medical records. Advocates for youthful
offenders claim the bad findings show a need for continued court
There’s a new sheriff in town, and the old one is becoming a visiting judge.
Simon Leis, who served as sheriff for 25 years, is best known for going
after an allegedly obscene Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit and prosecuting
pornographer Larry Flynt. As visiting judge, he will take on cases other
judges are assigned but can’t get to due to full dockets.
An appeals court is allowing City Gospel Mission to move to Queensgate.
The special assistance shelter wants to move from its current
Over-the-Rhine property to Dalton Avenue, but businesses and property
owners at Queensgate oppose the relocation. In its opinion, the Ohio
First District Court of Appeals said opponents to the relocation “have
not raised any genuine issues of material fact in support of their
constitutional attack upon the notwithstanding ordinance in their
capacity as neighboring businesses and property owners.”
Butler County nonprofit services are worried that a greater need for their services in 2013 will force more budget tightening.
U.S. retailers did not have a good Christmas.
Holiday sales were at the lowest they’ve been since 2008. The
disappointing sales have forced retailers to offer big discounts in
hopes of selling excess inventory.
Former president George H.W. Bush is in intensive care “following a series of setbacks including a persistent fever,” according to his spokesperson.
The Food and Drug Administration says FrankenFish, a giant, genetically modified salmon, is environmentally safe.
Fun fact: More Iranians worry about global warming than Americans.
Colleges are now helping students scrub their online footprints.
Antifreeze now tastes bitter to deter animals and children from eating it.
Scientists have developed a highly advanced robot boy capable of doing chores. Keep its face in mind, for you could be looking at the first of our future robot overlords.
0 Comments · Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Even those who don’t believe in the Bible as a source and guide from a
higher power would be willing to concede that the stories of Christ’s
social mission speak to a degree of efficiency and
discipline that could be a model, especially in today’s world.
City applies for federal loan to move homeless shelters as dispute over relocation continues
1 Comment · Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Cincinnati City Council on Nov. 7 took a
step toward moving two homeless shelters out of the Washington Park
area, but not all council members or homeless advocates are sure that is
the right move.
by Andy Brownfield
Loan would help move three homeless shelters out of Over-the-Rhine
UPDATE 11-8-12: An aide to Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls tells CityBeat that the $7 million loan will only go toward moving two of the shelters: the Drop Inn Center and a new women's shelter to be operated by the YWCA. Because the City Gospel Mission requires a religious component to is outreach to the homeless, it cannot receive federal funding. The original story follows below.City Council on Wednesday signed off on a plan to apply for
federal loans to help move three Cincinnati homeless shelters to new
Council members voted with all but one approving the
application for $37 million in loans, $7 million of which would move the
Washington Park-area shelters.
If the loan is approved, the City Gospel Mission would
move to the West End, a new women’s shelter would be build in Mount
Auburn and the Drop Inn Center would move to a yet-undetermined
Cincinnati had pledged $10 million toward relocating the
shelters. The loan would be paid back at $532,000 a year for the next 20
Councilman Chris Smitherman was the sole dissenting voice.
He said he supports the homeless, but he is wary of the risks of the
loan and the city’s ability to pay it back.
Councilman Chris Seelbach, who said he moved to
Over-the-Rhine shortly after the 2001 riots, voted to approve applying
for the loan, but also voiced some concern.
“The reason I moved is because I loved it; I fell in love
with the diversity of the neighborhood,” he said, noting
income diversity as well as racial and ethnic.
“I would hope that we could find a location for the Drop
that is in Over-the-Rhine and there isn’t a continued effort to push low
income people out of Over-the-Rhine.”
Josh Spring, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati
Homeless Coalition, said the shelters the city has now are perfectly
adequate and the money could be spent better developing affordable
housing and creating jobs to help eliminate homelessness.
“Historically a majority of shelters started between 1982
and 1990 because in that era we cut dollars to housing and employment,”
“Shelters were never created to end homelessness. Shelters
were created for people to have a safe place once everything else had
failed them. We shouldn’t let everything else fail them.”
by German Lopez
Homeless to Homes plan approved, unemployment benefits could expire, fiscal cliff looms
With a push from Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls and City Council approval, the Homeless to Homes plan is moving forward.
The shelter-moving plan, which was originally put together by
Strategies to End Homelessness, will use $37 million in loans to build
new shelters for the Drop Inn Center, City Gospel Mission and the YWCA.
But some homeless advocates have criticized the plan because it forces
them to move homeless shelters they don’t want to move. Josh Spring,
executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, says
the money could be spent better developing affordable housing and
creating jobs to help eliminate homelessness.
Just one day after President Barack Obama’s re-election, one left-leaning Ohio group was already making demands.
They want federal unemployment benefits renewed. The group’s research
director, supported by economic data, says the expiration of those
benefits could have bad repercussions for the unemployed and the federal
and state economies.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati investment professionals are beginning to renew worries about the federal fiscal cliff.
The fiscal cliff, which includes emergency unemployment benefits, is a
mix of tax hikes and budget cuts set to automatically occur at the end
of the year. The Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan agency
that measures the impact of federal budgets and policy, has warned about the fiscal cliff’s potential economic damage. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has also warned lawmakers about the fiscal cliff.
A state appeals court ruled today that the city of Cincinnati is allowed to reduce retirees’ health benefits.
The cuts in benefits are meant to shore up the city’s pension plan, but
retirees, including former City Clerk Sandy Sherman, filed a lawsuit arguing
the benefits can only be increased, not decreased. The case could still
move to the Ohio Supreme Court.
Hamilton County’s new Democratic sheriff, Jim Neil, is already making plans.
He says he favors alternative sentencing to deal with jail
overcrowding, and he wants to audit and restructure the sheriff
department’s budget to cut waste.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine will be in Cincinnati Thursday to unveil Cincinnati’s first prescription drug drop box. The drop boxes are meant to reduce prescription drug abuse and improper ingestion.
A sign of what could come to Cincinnati next spring: Columbus’s casino reported $18.3 million in revenue for its first month. Cincinnati’s Horseshoe Casino is currently being constructed and is expected to open in spring 2013.
Blue Ash-based Empire Marketing Strategies is buying a plant site in Mason for about $820,000, and it could create 200 jobs.
In case you missed it, CityBeat posted comprehensive election results for Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio and the U.S.
State Democrats and Republicans have an explanation for two incumbents losing in the Ohio Supreme Court: names.
On Democrat William O’Neill defeating Republican incumbent Robert Cupp,
Ohio Republican Party Chairman Robert Bennett said O’Neill won because
he has an Irish-American name. Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris
Redfern said, “Sharon Kennedy is a great ballot name. That’s why she
won.” Redfern says he will introduce legislation that will require party
affiliation to appear on the Ohio Supreme Court ballots.
The election didn’t change much in the Ohio Board of Education. It remains five Democrats and six Republicans.
Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan said the approval of Issue 4, which extends City Council terms to four years, will be good for local business. She argues “there’s a great business case to be made for having a more stable and reliable local government.”
While marijuana was legalized in some states, Butler County led what it believes is its biggest marijuana bust in history. More than 900 lbs of marijuana were seized.
Bill Cunningham, local conservative radio talk show host, may retire due to Obama’s re-election. Oh well.
In the story of another conservative meltdown, CityBeat has a special letter for the Lebanon tea party: We’re sorry.
Perhaps the national media’s most under-reported story of election night was that Puerto Ricans favored statehood in the polls for the first time. If Congress and Obama act, the island could become the 51st state.Popular Science has an open letter to President Barack Obama. While they like how Obama generally supports science funding more than a President Mitt Romney would, they want Obama to do more.
by German Lopez
Grant will provide $600,000 for at-risk and homeless vets
Three homeless aid groups in Cincinnati are getting a bit
of help from the federal government. On Sept. 19, the Secretary of
Veteran Affairs announced it awarded nearly $600 million to homeless aid
groups around the United States, and three local organizations managed
to secure $600,000 of that funding.
The money will be awarded primarily to Ohio Valley
Goodwill Industries, but Goodwill has partnered up with Strategies to
End Homelessness and the Healing Center at Vineyard Community Church to
make full use of the money.
Kevin Finn, executive director of Strategies to End
Homelessness, says the money will help make up for stimulus funding that
was recently lost — at least in the case of military veterans.“It’s going to go to helping veterans and their families
that are either at risk of becoming homeless or already homeless,” Finn
That makes the grant funding different in two major ways:
First, the money can now be used to help veterans’ families, not just
veterans. Typically, aid to veterans is allocated in a way that can only
benefit veterans, but this money will help their husbands, wives and children.
Also, the money will also be used to help vets at risk
for homelessness instead of just vets who are already homeless. With the
traditional, limited funding, homeless aid groups can only reach out to
people who are already out in the streets; with this new funding, groups
like Strategies to End Homeless will be capable of taking preventative
measures that keep vets in a home.
The new funding, which Finn estimates will help about 200
families, will be divided between the local organizations so they can
each take on different roles. For Strategies to End Homelessness, that
mostly means working on short-term solutions for homeless or at-risk
“The biggest (services) will be rentals and financial
assistance to either get them to be stable in housing or keep them in
their housing and prevent them from becoming homeless,” Finn says.
After that, care will shift to Goodwill, which will
work on job training, job searching, tutoring, computer training and
other important tools to help keep vets employed and housed.
“If the financial support can keep them from being
homeless in the short term, then the services that the Goodwill case
manager will put in place will hopefully keep them from being homeless
in the long term,” Finn says.
To reach out to vets in need, the organizations will use current connections, street outreach programs and phone hotlines to make
sure the program reaches as many people as possible while staying
efficient. To Finn, one of the most important tasks of Strategies to
End Homelessness is to make sure no funding is wasted and the
organizations coordinated by Strategies to End Homelessness do not have
Strangely enough, aid to vets has become a political issue
recently. Forty Republicans in the U.S. Senate recently blocked the
Veteran Jobs Corps Act, which would have funded job programs for
military veterans. Ohio Rep. Connie Pillich recently introduced a
resolution in the Ohio General Assembly to encourage U.S. Senate
Republicans to pass the bill.
by German Lopez
Cincinnati Park Board ends allegedly discriminatory rules
The Cincinnati Park Board today voted to strike down signs enforcing rules in Washington Park. The vote ended Park Rule 28, which
allowed the Park Board to enact new rules by placing a sign on Washington Park grounds.
The signs, which the city could use to enforce any park rule as law, had recently come under fire by
homeless advocate groups. In a statement, Josh Spring, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, wrote, “Park Rule 28 allowed opening for the back-room creation of the special rules in Washington Park that were written by an employee of the Police Department, a couple of Park Board employees and 3CDC employees — completely without the input of the public or any legislative body or process.”Before the Park Board vote, homeless advocate groups
claimed the rules were being written away from public view — in part by
private companies. Jerry Davis, member of the Homeless Congress, cited 3CDC's involvement in the rule writing as an example: “3CDC is a private corporation that does not answer to the
Citizens of Cincinnati. This private group should not get to decide
what rules are created and enforced. 3CDC is saying to the Citizens of
Cincinnati, ‘You pay the bills and we make the decisions.' "
Three Over-the-Rhine residents, including Davis, sued the Park Board on
Sept. 4 to put an end to the signs. In a statement announcing
the lawsuit, Spring claimed the park rules “discriminate against
certain classes of people” — specifically, the homeless and poor.
The Washington Park rules were different than rules at other
Cincinnati parks in a few ways: They did not allow “dropping off food or
clothing,” “rummaging in trash and recycling containers” or the use of
any amplified sound. Homeless advocate groups claimed these rules were
contrary to broader park rules that allow the sharing of food, permit
inspecting and removing items from trash and recycling containers and
only prohibit amplified sound if it disturbs the peace or safety of the public.
Homeless advocate groups said the rules hurt others
as well. Spring wrote in the lawsuit’s press statement, “If a family
decides to picnic in Washington Park and the parents hand their children
food, they would be in breach of these rules, or if a friend hands a
jacket to her walking companion, she would have broken these rules.”
Cincinnati Police Department Captain Daniel Gerard admitted
the rules were targeting the homeless when, according to documents
revealed by homeless advocate groups, he said, “Until the Drop Inn
Center moves, the line about food and clothing drop off being prohibited
is absolutely needed.” The Drop Inn Center is a homeless shelter.Despite the Park Board vote, the lawsuit will continue. The city will file to dismiss the lawsuit, but the city claims the lawsuit should never have been brought forward.“The issue was brought to our attention, we took a look at it and decided to take down the signs, yet they inexplicably decided to file a suit anyway,” said Aaron Herzig, deputy city solicitor. “That's not how it should work. The city looks at a concern and decides to take action, and there's no need for a lawsuit at that point.”Jennifer Kinsley, the attorney representing the three Over-the-Rhine residents suing the city, defended the lawsuit and its continuance.“We congratulate the city on doing the right thing by repealing Rule 28, but the lawsuit covers a broader range of topics than just that rule,” she said, citing statutory damages. She also said she's worried the Park Board ruling will not overturn rules already enforced by the signs: “It may and it may not. We've seen that the Park Board, 3CDC and others are willing to bend the law in order to make special rules for that park, so the status of the rules for that particular area are unclear at the moment.”Herzig says the rules on the signs were not enforced after the signs were taken down “weeks before the lawsuit.” He says the only rules remaining are the rules officially published by the Park Board.