By Pinecrest Residents’ United
On Tuesday, April 28, 2020, at 11am, spokespeople from Pinecrest Residents’ United will gather in front of their building at 3951 Eighth Street W #100 for a press conference. When residents at the Price Hill CMHA property first learned their building was undergoing a conversion called Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) alongside major renovations, they organized themselves and formed the Pinecrest Residents’ United to protect their tenant rights throughout the lengthy project. As the COVID-19 pandemic forces stay-at-home orders across Ohio, the Pinecrest residents are now fighting for a fair relocation allowance; they are now organizing for their health against relocation notices.
During the RAD conversion, CMHA plans to renovate the entire building, starting from the top floor of the nine-story high rise, and will require every resident to move at least once, and in many cases, twice. The original plans included construction beginning June 1, 2020. Residents moving out of the building temporarily would receive a 30-day relocation notice, while residents leaving permanently would receive a 90-day notice. When Governor DeWine announced an extension of the stay-at-home order until at least May 1, 2020, residents saw the need to communicate with CMHA.
In a March 20 letter, the Pinecrest Residents’ United wrote, “CMHA needs to adjust the RAD renovation timeline. Public health authorities are using data models to predict a peak of COVID-19 infections in Ohio around mid- May. We demand CMHA to stop all relocation activities until at least June 1, 2020, and then evaluate the infection rates and risk at that time. Many of our residents are elderly and members of otherwise vulnerable populations. Moving us around the city will expose us unnecessarily to this potentially fatal virus.”
In his April 3, 2020, response, Mr. Greg Johnson, CEO of CMHA, stated that “CMHA is extremely sensitive to the health concerns related to COVID-19 and ... CMHA will not do any moves until May 15th 2020. We plan to update you on this on or before the May 15th whether or not we will commence moving on May 16th or move the date out even further.”
However, a week ago, CMHA served residents on the seventh, eighth, and ninth floors of the Pinecrest with relocation notices to vacate their units on May 23. Many notices included errors. For example, a couple who currently resides in a two-bedroom unit is being moved into a one-bedroom unit, violating the comparable housing conditions of the Uniform Relocation Act. Many residents are not being shown three units, but are given only a choice of one, which violates HUD mandates. Additionally, multiple residents were told to move into units that are currently occupied. Finally, residents who are leaving Pinecrest permanently were given only a 30- day notice instead of the 90-days required by law. Impacted residents have contacted the phone numbers and email addresses provided for the CMHA Relocation Team, with no response. These uncertainties have caused emotional stress for residents who are already under tension from the on-going struggle to have CMHA hear and respect their voices, and puts people at direct risk of exposure to the highly infectious disease of COVID-19.
Consistently throughout the months of meeting and attempted negotiations with CMHA to protect their rights throughout the RAD conversion, the members of Pinecrest Residents’ United have heard claims that CMHA is operating under the plans that are best for the Pinecrest residents. However, CMHA has consistently neglected to factor in the resident voices as expressed in the still-unsigned MOU, and now CMHA is issuing move-out notices while the State of Ohio is under a stay-at-home order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. CMHA has acted in its own interest with minimal or complete disregard for the emotional and physical well- being of its residents. To regain its public trust, CMHA must sign an amenable MOU with Pinecrest Residents’ United, and halt all RAD relocation until at least June 1, 2020