Gentrification Wars: Cincinnati Metropole

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Here's the hard truth: in order to "clean up" a section of town there will be collateral damage. For some, damage arrives in the removal of affordable housing options for low and moderate-income individuals. This can hurt renters of limited means.

The fight is on right now in the city of Cincinnati.

Residents of the Metropole, a downtown apartment building situated in the city's "Backstage" entertainment district, are fighting to retain residency. Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) purchased the building and have plans to work with 21c Museum Hotels in Louisville to transform the 1912 building into a fetching contemporary art venue and 160-room boutique hotel.

The residents - a mix of African-American, elderly and disabled people, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer - are hopp'n mad. They filed a fair housing complaint because the apartment building is home to 230 HUD-subsidized units. (News footage here.)

"Downtown Cincinnati is one of the few racially and economically integrated communities in the city of Cincinnati," reports the Enquirer from a release issued by Legal Aid. "It is their choice to live in this neighborhood, and they do not want to be forced to move to racially and economically segregated communities."

Metropole apartment residents have a year to relocate. The developer is offering two options. First, residents can relocate into other, developer-owned properties. Or, residents can take a Section-8 housing voucher to redeem in two other locations: Over-the-Rhine's Gateway Quarter (once Cincinnati's largest ghetto) and East Walnut Hills (a recently gentrified neighborhood).

Neither option sounds like a good move. A relocation into flashier, and potentially more expensive, area will still result in increased costs for goods and services even if the developer maintains the same rental price for the new apartments.

Feelings expressed in the comments on the article at Cincinnati.com are deeply divided.
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