By Gabriela Godinez
Recently I went on a food tour with my family. We thought that it was going to be a nice escape from all the terrible news we hear and read at every turn, but instead it only highlighted the fact that so many citizens are unaware of the hurt Cincinnati is going through. While we were trying to have a break from reality, our food tour guide made the point to praise 3CDC for “cleaning up” Washington Park and other areas that were “abandoned.” What she didn’t mention was the fact that those weren’t simply vacant buildings, but actually buildings left by people who were deliberately pushed out. What she ignored was that Washington Park wasn’t a murderous drug infested park, and that now the people in the park selling the drug alcohol are the very people she praises.
My mother was furious and tried her best to calm down, though the smoke coming from her ears wasn’t preventable.
This experience showed me that there is no real way to take a break and escape the reality of our world and more specifically Cincinnati. Some people are malicious in their spread misinformation, and others are simply ignorant and spew such ignorance without negative intent. Either way, we are accountable for the information that we give others and need to hold ourselves to a higher standard.
According to the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, “Hamilton County is short more than 40,000 affordable homes, 28,000 of which are needed within Cincinnati.”
Shelters are constantly over capacity and still don’t have enough beds for every person experiencing homelessness in Cincinnati. Josh Spring, the director of the Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, wrote in a recent press release, “Black households are living under the constant threat of being displaced from their homes. Hundreds of people have died because of homelessness, yet we continue to pump funds and tax abatements into the development of luxury housing. We know the solution is to publicly fund the creation of new affordable housing and the preservation of existing affordable housing and to end displacement and unjust evictions. Our People, agencies and faith partners will wait no longer. We will be marching and speaking in mass to demand HOUSING NOW!”
On October 2nd, people of all walks of life came together in Laurel Park to begin a march to city hall. There was an empowering ambiance at this initial gathering. Some students and community members were gathered on one patch of grass making signs for the march, while other folks stood around eating and chatting. It was a wonderful show of community. As to be expected, there was one moment where two police cars and four police officers on bicycles circled around us in the name of “surveillance”. This did not deflate the energy that was being cultivated through such strong presence of community. At least 31 organizations participated in the march and about 150 people gathered initially at the park. The count only got higher as the march began.
Once the march commenced, the energy only got more intense, showed by the chanting and singing of the people as everyone walked on. People were obviously fed up with the leadership of the City of Cincinnati ignoring its people in favor of monetary gain through the guise of development. In part of Josh’s speech in front of City hall he pointed out that the city council members weren’t even there to hear our complaints, even though they were meant to be meeting that day at that time. They are well aware of what is happening around them, and chose to not be there and to ignore the problem. However, this demonstration and protest shows that the community is not having any of it. They all showed up to demand affordable housing now, and we will all keep fighting until it is done.