Trustees' homes targeted for public housing protests in Green Township

GREEN TWP., Ohio - Some West-siders plan to gather outside the homes of two Green Township trustees this week to protest a plan  for more public housing in the area where they live.

The protesters – from Green Township and nearby Cheviot and Westwood – feel the trustees weren't open about the process that resulted in a proposal for a public housing development just north of Westwood-Northern Boulevard between North Bend Road and Boudinot Avenue.

The Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, the region's public housing agency,  has tentative plans to build a 50-unit, multi-family rental project there.

CMHA has scheduled a town hall meeting to discuss the proposed development from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at CMHA Auditorium, 1635 Western Ave.

Dave Jennings, who lives near the site and calls himself  "the point person" for the protesters, said they would gather outside the homes of trustees Rocky Boiman on Tuesday afternoon and David Linneberg  on Wednesday afternoon.

Jennings said his group didn't find out about the proposed development until the day before the trustees meeting  in February.

"You'd think they would have known about this a long time ago. We went to the trustees meeting and they said they may vote, so we voiced our objections," Jennings said. "We had maybe 50 people at the trustees meeting and about 100 at the CMHA meeting (the next night). We had 120-150 people at the Cheviot City Council meeting. Because of fire code regulations, people were standing out in the hall."

Jennings said there already is a lot of public housing in southeastern Green Township, as well as neighboring Cheviot and Westwood,  and it looks as if the  trustees want to concentrate it there even though they have other options.

"One community member went online and found 64 foreclosed or short-sale properties in the township that CMHA could renovate, and most of them are in neighborhoods," Jennings said.

Boiman said he and his wife weren't home when the protesters planned to be there.

"I'm at work, my wife's at work, so we haven't seen any protesters," Boiman said. "There's a lot of misinformation out there. There's a report that we sold this land, but we haven't. We're waiting to hear from  CMHA.

"I'm just trying to do what's right for the residents of Green Township," Boiman said. "For two years we've been fighting this (more public housing) in federal court. They should be protesting HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) and the federal court, not me."

Jennings, 50, says his family  has lived in the same home on Van Zandt Drive since 1961.  He said it's "about 200 yards" from the proposed project.

 "I grew up here and and now I'm raising my kids here.  Our neighborhood has a neat sense of family. Like me, there are several second-generation families. There's very low crime and virtually no drug activity. It feels very safe," Jennings said.

But he said he has seen low-income housing attract crime.

"I recall Laurel Homes and Fay Apartments.  I used to walk to the Westwood Theater for dollar movies. But I heard it reported that the intersection down the street (Harrison and Boudinot Avenues) is an epicenter for adolescent crime," Jennings said.

"We have five families in our neighborhood now who get housing assistance, and that's fine. I don't object to that. I object to 30 (public housing units). That's where you get crime centrally located. More than anything else, it's the concentration."

The proposed project likely would include a mixture of subsidized and affordable units, said CMHA spokeswoman Kelly Kramer.

Green Township has been at the center of two recent legal disputes over public housing.  In 2010, HUD filed a discrimination finding against CMHA after a complaint accused then CMHA board chairman Arnold Barnett of seeking to restrict Section 8 housing from Green Township, where Barnett lived.

In 2011, township trustees sued HUD, alleging the township was being unfairly singled out for public housing.

The proposed project is part of a settlement of that suit. Township trustees agreed to allow construction of 32 additional units of subsidized housing in Green Township – less than the 68 units, and possibly more, that CMHA had once envisioned for the area.

The township currently has 105 public housing units.

CMHA is seeking to buy five parcels. They are 3320 Dickinson Road, for $14,900; and 4166, 4176, 4186 and 4238 North Bend Road, for $625,000.

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