By Josh Spring
FC Cincinnati has petitioned the City of Cincinnati to make a significant zoning change to the area of the West End they want to build a stadium. Council Members are saying that before they vote on this change, they need to see a completed study that shows how noise from the stadium will adversely affect functions at Music Hall. As this discussion occurs, we are struck by the fact that the topic of housing and displacement is largely absent.
The weak community benefits agreement signed by FC Cincinnati on which the city council vote last year regarding stadium funding hinged, included that a study of affordable housing and adverse effects would be complete. This study, being done by an out-of-town firm is not due to be finished until June. However, the preliminary research shows that likely thousands of people’s housing would be threatened.
The preliminary research mirrors what our organization has been saying since last year. FC Cincinnati said they would not displace anyone. While we have said, even if that is true, the stadium will lead to development prospecting, gentrification, increased rents and displacement. However, true to form, FC Cincinnati has already displaced neighborhood small businesses and residents.
Why is it that city council is saying that before they vote on this zoning change, they must first be able to read the report on the negative affects the sound from a stadium would have on Music Hall, yet they have not required that the report on housing and displacement be completed first? Both common sense and the preliminary findings of the study indicate thousands of people could be displaced from their homes through a significant loss of affordable housing and rising costs to people who own their homes.
We, of course, believe that spending millions of dollars, especially public dollars to benefit the billionaire owners of FC Cincinnati is wrong. Not investing very large sums into digging our way out of our current housing crisis (40,000 homes short, 28,000 in the City) is wrong. Not having necessary protections against unjust evictions and displacement for profit is wrong. We are working to get the city to establish significant, annual revenue sources for the newly established Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which passed last year after more than a year of our advocacy. We are working to get legislation that would actively protect people’s right to not unjustly be put of their homes. But come on, shouldn’t it be widely accepted that the ability for individuals and families to stay in their housing and neighborhood and not experience homelessness is more important than the quality of sound at Music Hall? Shouldn’t it be on the tips of the tongues of all city council members that certainly a study regarding housing loss would get at least the same deference as a study about sound affecting symphonies, ballets and operas?
Please take the time to email city council at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them not to vote on anything for a soccer stadium without having been able to thoroughly consider the completed housing study.