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What's really going on with Valley View
by kris harsh Wednesday, Jan. 07, 2004 at 7:06 PM
kristohio@hotmail.com

my opinion about what is going on with the Valley View "redevelopment" plan

So here's the long story short. They're going to demolish 243 public housing units and replace them with "mixed income" housing, including a paltry 95 public housing units (a net loss of 148 public housing units). Residents are being kicked out beginning this month but demolitin might take up to a year and a half (which means they could sit vacant for up to a year). Residents are being moved to King Kenedy North, Carver Park and Lakeview (all natoriuosly poor public housing areas).

At the meeting many people asked questions that caused the officials to turn in circles looking for answeres, many were simply side-tracked and avoided.

For instance, one man asked them to address the issue that 6,000 people in Cleveland are on a waiting list for public housing and now they're reducing the number of units, how does this help clevelands affordable housing shortage? Michael Bowen (the CMHA HopeVI coordinator) had the embarassing job of dodging. he replied by saying that 500 new units of public housing are being built, but later exposed his own answer as inadequate when he said that in each of the places where new construction is occuring, it is to replace a much larger number of units that have already been torn down.

Barbara Freeland (the Develoment manager for McCormack Baron and Salazar) didn't fare much better from the questions. At one point she said that the overall reduction of public housing units was an attempt to "create communities that aren't economicaly isolated". this near-do-well answer was also exposed when i asked how moving people into other, well established public housing areas, would reduce the overall amount of "economic isolation" in Cleveland, she couldn't answer. Mr. Bowen attempted by saying that King Kennedy North and Carver Park aren't as impoverished as Valley View.

This simply was not true. While Valley View may be home to many poor people, it is also located in Tremont, a neighborhood that sells $130,000 condos just four blocks from the "projects". Tremont is already a "mixed income neighborhood".

In the end (five years from now when the project is expected to be completed) what we will see is a greater concentration of poor people in Lakeview, Carver Park and King Kennedy North housing projects and a much more gentrified Tremont (which i'm sure they hope will help sell those condos, many of which are sitting empty).

While some residents in attendence appeared very pissed, others expressed disbelief. One woman, when i asked her said "i'll believe it when i see it, they've been saying this for years". unfortunately, it appears that the time has come.

One of the odder things talked about were the results of a poll conducted amongst Valley View residents asking them what they would like in terms of serives and remodeling. I call this odd because, of the 81 who answered, the odds are very good that most of them will not be moving back in five years. remember, there's only going to be 95 new public housing units built, and it's hard to say what will happen to anyone in the next five years.

This whole plan doesn't bode well for the future of Tremont Elemntary School. It seems like they want everyone out before the beginning of the next school year. Tremont Elemntary, which has already been targeted for closing, recieves many of its' students from the Valley View apartments.

It's particularly tragic because Tremont is not a bad neighborhood. The children currently walk to school with little risk of harm. Their experience is not likely to be the same in King Kennedy or the other projects they're likely to be moved to.

and finally, the money. lots of people stand to make a small fortune on this. Sutton Brothers (one of, if not THE, largest builders in Tremont) is already moving their headquarters to a building just one block from Valley View, no doubt gearing up for some big business. Tremont West Development Corporation also stands to better their members' pocketbooks in all this. The big winners here though is McCormack, Baron and Salazar Development Incorporated. This Missouri based company stands to make a fortune not only in overseeing the new project, but also in being the on-site management group and running the community services aspect as well.

If one wanted to get all nit-picky about the declining tax base of Cleveland and the need to create neighborhoods attractive to wealthy people i would ask them to question their methods. if we continue to isolate the economicly downtrodden into ever smaller areas then what hope do they have of bettering themselves financially. "wealth" is a fictional concept the closer you live to the center of a large impoverished area.

Furthermore, the 30 million or so being spent, could probably do a bang-up job on renovating the buildings and maintaining the 243 public housing units already there. if they need to be torn down due to structural problems, why not replace them with other public housing units? nicer, better planned units? reducing the availability of affordable housing in Cleveland does not advance the city as a whole, just those making money off the gentrification of one particular neighborhood.

add your comments


Tremont
by Ron Dodson Friday, Jan. 09, 2004 at 12:05 PM
ron.dodson@att.net Lakewood

I wonder how much and how long are the tax abatements on these new units? 5,10, 15 years? All while the tax base continues to decline and the city keeps raising taxes on middle-income, long term existing property owners. What a great deal for the developers and the home buyers, who will bolt for the county line long before the abatements expire. When are we going to learn?

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good point ron
by kris Saturday, Jan. 10, 2004 at 1:08 AM

and thus the money keeps getting sucked upward, there seems to be a pattern here....

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Why research is important
by michaelis Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2004 at 7:10 PM
michaelis@kleveland.org

I visited Cleveland IMC today, and was happy to see a feature about Valleyview's imminent destruction and the gentrification of Tremont, but was surprised to see that all the links were to one person's articles, with absolutely zero factual sources to back anything up except one person's "interpretation" of a single housing meeting he attended.

The reason every other indymedia backs their features with a variety of sources is because an opinion without the evidence to back it up is practically worthless (it doesn't provide sources of information so people can learn more themselves, it just tells a story).

Another good reason to back up articles with other sources is that the person who wrote the articles may have little to no idea what he's talking about beyond his opinion after attended one meeting. It also provides zero background information, most of it vague and innaccurate.

Great idea for a feature topic, but terrible execution and writing. Here's a laundry list of the facts that are fucked up (which wouldn't have happened if the topic was adequately researched). Maybe y'all should consider a policy where a features ONLY sources, the writer, and the person who puts it up are not the same person. If you want to write an article about housing trends/conditions without any factual sources, at least know what you're talking about.

"Mr. Bowen attempted by saying that King Kennedy North and Carver Park aren't as impoverished as Valley View. This simply was not true."

Yes, it is. Valleyview, Carver Park, and King Kennedy North were build in the 60's and 70's. The size and condition of these properties were terrible. Like living in a closet with roaches. Since then, Carver Park and King Kennedy have already undergone "renovation". The REAL problem is that residents of Valleyview won't move to or afford these areas.

"Valleyview isn't economically isoloated."

Are you blind? Of course it is; you said it yourself. The surrounding area of Tremont is expensive housing, while Valleyview is a shithole. It is a economic black hole surrounded by expensive housing.

"Valleyview is already 'mixed income'"

No, it's not. There are zero middle-class families living in Valleyview. Hope VI's "mixed income" plans are the problem with gentrification, since the housing isn't affordable to lower-income people. Valleyview is NOT mixed income.

"what we will see is a greater concentration of poor people in Lakeview, Carver Park and King Kennedy North housing projects and a much more gentrified Tremont"

Wrong again. Thanks to CDC's and the CMHA, Carver Park and King Kennedy North have already undergone massive gentrification, much like what is happening to housing at Valleyview. The problem is that quality public housing isn't affordable anymore.

"Tremont West Development Corporation also stands to better their members' pocketbooks in all this."

What the fuck does this even mean? Everyone's proud that you can name-drop a Tremont development company, but it's worthless unless you describe HOW they make money and WHY it's bad. Especially since Tremont West Dev. Corp. is FAR more responsible for Tremont's gentrification issues than Sutton; TWDC has been around since '79, while Sutton's only been around Tremont for 2 years.

"If one wanted to get all nit-picky about the declining tax base of Cleveland and the need to create neighborhoods attractive to wealthy people i would ask them to question their methods"

This one really misses the point. Actually, in contrast to other cities, people who live in suburbs but work in Cleveland still pay city taxes. Also, tax abatements are being offered to new Tremont residents. The REAL problem is that people who have lived in Tremont for decades do not get tax abatements, so end up suffering rising property taxes making their home unaffordable.

"we continue to isolate the economicly downtrodden into ever smaller areas then what hope do they have of bettering themselves financially"

First of all, it betters them financially because they can form community organizations/projects that meet the needs of the low-income community. Second of all, it lets them afford lower taxes and costs of living. Third of all, this is NOT what the city's doing; they are trying to integrate, not isolate, the poor population. That's what Hope VI is all about. This is almost the opposite of other cities where gentrification is a serious problem, such as San Fran, Atlanta, or D.C.

"the 30 million or so being spent, could probably do a bang-up job on renovating the buildings and maintaining the 243 public housing units already there"

What?!? The answer to these problem's isn't a black and white "then keep the current housing". The housing units at Valleyview are almost inhuman. To keep 243 units in such a small place is inhuman. Low-income people should be provided QUALITY affordable housing, not a $300 closet.

"if they need to be torn down due to structural problems, why not replace them with other public housing units? nicer, better planned units?"

That's exactly what Hope VI is trying to do. The problem is that they're not affordable since the city is doing a shitty job helping people out with the money issue. Also, the city doesn't have enough decent jobs in the first place to make anything affordable. Their plan to build new housing and offer tax abatements so people don't have to live in shitty public housing is good too, except the Fannie May/Freddie Mac/FHA statistics of loans to low-income people are the problem.

Think of Valleyview apartments like the Iraq war. The US put a dictator in charge, who never should have been there in the first place, so they could look like hero's when they get rid of him. Cleveland built shitty housing, which never should have been there to begin with, and now is looking like a hero 'cause it's destroying the housing. Yes, Valleyview should be demolished and replaced with better housing; but no, the alternative provided (like the Occupation) is not the answer either, because it still maintains the overall oppression of Cleveland's poor.

By the way, your hero Dennis Kucinich supports Hope VI housing projects. Just like a liberal.

A "radical" interpretation of the Valleyview demonlition/gentrification of Tremont, including sources and interpretion by long-time Cleveland residents, will be soon available at Kleveland.org.

add your comments


what to do with valleyview
by kris Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2004 at 8:28 PM

indymedia supports grass-roots reporting, to this end i do not feel that my story is slighted by a lack of links to other places.

indymedia also encourages people to add to stories, to this end i am glad people are contributing.

as an ongoing story i was hoping that some people would post more information. i know there's a web-site out there that interprets HOPEVI results. i haven't found that site yet but was hoping someone could list it as a comment. i also hoped to update the story but obviously haven't yet.

to address your comments, michaelis...

ME; "Mr. Bowen attempted by saying that King Kennedy North and Carver Park aren't as impoverished as Valley View. This simply was not true."

Michaelis; "Yes, it is. Valleyview, Carver Park, and King Kennedy North were build in the 60's and 70's. The size and condition of these properties were terrible. Like living in a closet with roaches. Since then, Carver Park and King Kennedy have already undergone "renovation". The REAL problem is that residents of Valleyview won't move to or afford these areas."

to begin with, renovating an area does not address the poverty in that area. while king kenedy has had some new development it does not detract from the fact that overall it (and the other public housing areas) are placed in areas of cleveland where the overall income levels are lower than in tremont.

(not)ME; "Valleyview isn't economically isoloated."

Michaelis; Are you blind? Of course it is; you said it yourself. The surrounding area of Tremont is expensive housing, while Valleyview is a shithole. It is a economic black hole surrounded by expensive housing.

i did not say that. that quote is not from my article.

(not)ME; "Valleyview is already 'mixed income'"

Michaelis; No, it's not. There are zero middle-class families living in Valleyview. Hope VI's "mixed income" plans are the problem with gentrification, since the housing isn't affordable to lower-income people. Valleyview is NOT mixed income.

again, i didn't say that either. i said "Tremont is already a mixed income neighborhood", not valley view.

so while i appreciate your insight into the article, it would be more constructive to everyone reading this if you would respond to actual quotes rather than making them up to facilitate your desire to tear down my article. moving on...

ME; "what we will see is a greater concentration of poor people in Lakeview, Carver Park and King Kennedy North housing projects and a much more gentrified Tremont"

Michaelis; Wrong again. Thanks to CDC's and the CMHA, Carver Park and King Kennedy North have already undergone massive gentrification, much like what is happening to housing at Valleyview. The problem is that quality public housing isn't affordable anymore.

i think you're confused, public housing is free. there isn't an issue of affordability with public housing, just availablity. as for the gentrification of king kennedy and carver park, it has brought in a few "market cost" apartments but not moved the overall neighborhoods up that dramaticly

Me; "Tremont West Development Corporation also stands to better their members' pocketbooks in all this."

Michaelis; What the fuck does this even mean? Everyone's proud that you can name-drop a Tremont development company, but it's worthless unless you describe HOW they make money and WHY it's bad. Especially since Tremont West Dev. Corp. is FAR more responsible for Tremont's gentrification issues than Sutton; TWDC has been around since '79, while Sutton's only been around Tremont for 2 years.

TWDC is kind of like a fratternity in tremont, they send business each others' way and hook each other up. also, if you want to dish the dirt on TWDC, then DO IT. you seem to be in the same boat you admonish me for here, no facts.

Michaelis; This one really misses the point. Actually, in contrast to other cities, people who live in suburbs but work in Cleveland still pay city taxes. Also, tax abatements are being offered to new Tremont residents. The REAL problem is that people who have lived in Tremont for decades do not get tax abatements, so end up suffering rising property taxes making their home unaffordable.

this is a good point, one that i don't address and is not even part of this article. how this ommision hurts my article is unknown to me.

Michaelis; "we continue to isolate the economicly downtrodden into ever smaller areas then what hope do they have of bettering themselves financially"

First of all, it betters them financially because they can form community organizations/projects that meet the needs of the low-income community. Second of all, it lets them afford lower taxes and costs of living. Third of all, this is NOT what the city's doing; they are trying to integrate, not isolate, the poor population. That's what Hope VI is all about. This is almost the opposite of other cities where gentrification is a serious problem, such as San Fran, Atlanta, or D.C.

so, you support this proposal? let the poor people stay in poor neighborhoods so they can better strategize? they could have done that in valleyview but i think alot of the residents there feel powerless.

i think you're trying to argue against me at all costs at this point, you're running all over the place, you say that HOPEVI is trying not to isolate poor people (you don't defend its' record or anything), then you say it's kucinich friendly, and i thought you were against everything he is for?

Me; "the 30 million or so being spent, could probably do a bang-up job on renovating the buildings and maintaining the 243 public housing units already there"

Michaelis; What?!? The answer to these problem's isn't a black and white "then keep the current housing". The housing units at Valleyview are almost inhuman. To keep 243 units in such a small place is inhuman. Low-income people should be provided QUALITY affordable housing, not a $300 closet.

this is unecsary because....

Me; "if they need to be torn down due to structural problems, why not replace them with other public housing units? nicer, better planned units?"

Michaelis; That's exactly what Hope VI is trying to do. The problem is that they're not affordable since the city is doing a shitty job helping people out with the money issue. Also, the city doesn't have enough decent jobs in the first place to make anything affordable. Their plan to build new housing and offer tax abatements so people don't have to live in shitty public housing is good too, except the Fannie May/Freddie Mac/FHA statistics of loans to low-income people are the problem.

yeah, nicer, better public housing was my point. and i'm really suprised to hear you support the tax abatment approach since it is typical neo-liberal shit. why have the government put up free housing for the poor when they could just pass out section 8 certificates and let the "free market" take care of the rest. that's the plan, this is all basically neo-liberalism come home to roost.

Michaelis; By the way, your hero Dennis Kucinich supports Hope VI housing projects. Just like a liberal.

1. he's not my hero. 2. it sounds like you support Hope VI so far.

and finally, nice to see you still feel it's good to advertise on this site. i just hope none of those damned liberals that read our site start posting to your site, it might, you know, drag it down.

add your comments


got solidarity?
by DiY Thursday, Jan. 15, 2004 at 4:39 PM

see, you guys are the reason nothing radical OR progressive ever happens in this country. what in god's name are you arguing about? you both call it gentrification, you both think the residents are getting fucked and the rich are getting richer.

why don't you two combine your efforts to expand the critic of what's going on? the anti-capitalist movement isn't going to succeed if we bicker like this.

add your comments


I second the call for solidarity
by PN Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2004 at 9:28 AM

I'd like to second the call for solidarity made by "DiY". For those of us who know little about this situation, we must rely on others to help explain it. Although a back-n-forth might sometimes help out, it often is just confusing and reads like a "he said-she said". Please combine your efforts. Twice as strong together! Please keep covering this story!

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Discussion is a good thing
by michaelis Thursday, Jan. 22, 2004 at 1:43 PM
michaelis@kleveland.org

Me and Kris' back-and-forth doesn't by any stretch mean that we won't be standing side-by-side at the protest against Tremont gentrification. Unity doesn't mean we all think the same thing; it simply means, as you said above, that we're fighting a common cause. I think it's important that everyone's views are heard, and I think no one's statement are above criticism. Please don't make more of it than it is; it's not "dividing a community", it's me and Kris having a discussion regarding the origins and nature of gentrification in Tremont.

Just because a view is radical doesn't mean it's the only radical view. In fact, when the analysis revolves around the interpretation of surrounding facts, i think it's pretty important that we get a variety of interpretations of those facts. If not, things like the "Cuyahoga Falls" housing problem come into play. Everyone made such a big deal about Cuyahoga Falls holding a referendum regarding public housing that they never took it a step further and say, "yes, the referendum was fucked up and racist, but the housing they're building is pretty shitty too." Same thing with the Tremont issue. Just because it's wrong for them to forcibly evict people from Lakeview doesn't mean the solution is to keep them in the same shitty housing. There's more than two sides to the coin, and discussion helps bring these out and take the discussion to new and deeper levels.

If I can't speak out for my views and criticisms within the activist community, where the fuck am i supposed to go? It's essential that we retain our "unity", but not at the cost of discussion. Trust me; neither Kris nor myself will be any less "activist" because of a discussion about gentrification.

add your comments


many-sided coin
by lala Thursday, Jan. 22, 2004 at 4:26 PM

Well said, Michaelis. Respectful discussions are always a pleasure.

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clarifications on Valleyview
by kris Thursday, Jan. 22, 2004 at 5:45 PM

something i got out of my conversation with Brian Davis (director of the N.E.ohio coalition for the homeless) which i hope to type up as a transcript for this site....

so, there are currently 243 (or so) FREE public housing units in valleyview, when they rebuild there will be 95 free public housing units. the other 150 or so people are being put on vouchers, or "section 8",

this is a trend in cuyahoga county to essentially privatise the housing of the poorest people in the area. under section 8 a landlord doesn't HAVE to accept the vouchers. also, the price of the rent doesn't have to be entirely covered by the voucher.

in other words, in a competative housing market, more and more people could end having to pay above and beyond the section 8 certificate. this would save the federal government money and further burden those who struggle the most for housing.

hopefully, i will soon add the entire transcript of my talk with Mr. Davis.

add your comments


more research needed
by Joe Friday, Jan. 23, 2004 at 1:45 PM
loose_lug_nuts@yahoo.com

I share everyone's general concerns about gentrification and some of the ways in which Hope VI needs to be improved (I'd argue it is mostly the fault of inept Housing Authorities rather then the program itself).

The firm doing Valleyview is incredible. If you have any doubts, go drive to Pittsburgh and take a look at Crawford Square in the Lower Hill District, or visit Techwood in Atlanta or the Jefferson neighborhood in ST Louis. This firm is the best in the country at bringing investment into disinvested areas, leveraging public and philantrhopic funds, improving the schools in the areas they develop in and creating a truly mixed income community.

Here's a copy of a speech the Presidnet of Mccormack Baron gave to the Enterprise Foundation, who is responsible for much of the affordable housing being developed in Cleveland

http://www.enterprisefoundation.org/events/JWRLecture/

add your comments


refurbishing of existing public housing
by joe Friday, Jan. 23, 2004 at 1:50 PM
loose_lug_nuts@yahoo.com

Also, I think most non profit housing experts would tell you that spending money on the refurbishing of public housing never really works. Rehab is expensive and public housing was so shittily built 20-30 years ago that refurbishing is akin to tying a ribbon onto a piece of shit.

The reason to build new is that it is more cost effective and can more easily include newer fetaures in housing such as universal design and energy efficency measures.

or in other words, refurbishing public housing is as effective as Bush's spending on missle defense shields. A Waste.

add your comments


but joe?....
by kris Saturday, Jan. 24, 2004 at 1:57 PM

i'm going to read this again, more thouroughly, but right now i have to be brief.

"Schools affect housing markets. They affect home values. They affect the success of marketing newly developed housing. They affect the economic decisions of the private market when they're considering making an investment or locating in a city. They affect the ability to retain residents in a particular school system or in a local community. "

...is a quote from that lecture. i would like to ask you, how is the tremont elementry school going to fare over the next 5 years? when all those kids in valleyview are gone and they're already trying to close the school down, how can tremont elementry stay open?

school centered community? sounds more like a yuppie oriented community.

and another question that arrises, where do all the other people at valleyview go? we know they don't all come back, so where are they? in other neighborhoods that have even less opportunity?

my point is this. it seems like we're burdening some communities (king kennedy, lakeview, etc...) to create another (tremont) that stands out as exemplary. this doesn't address the whole problem.

thank you for the link, it was very informative. and thank you for your input.

add your comments


so, y'all, what's the plan?
by dana Monday, Feb. 16, 2004 at 11:38 AM

so, lemme see, old bad public housing is bad - loss of units is bad, even if old units were inhuman and the only way to make better-planned, larger units, laws of physics wise, is to make fewer units - building market rate is bad, even though it's the only way to bust clusters of low-income housing and diversify (news flash: build all public housing again on the same site, you get the same thing you had before!) - doing anything whatsoever to reverse the rats fleeing a sinking ship loss of people with jobs to the suburbs is bad - giving poor people access to anything other than gov't built housing through section 8 is bad, even if it provides much greater variety of scattered-site housing and housing type choice - basically, it's all bad. your only positive suggestion was nicer, better planned public housing. while this is utterly brilliant, it also addresses none of the issues of concentration of poverty. it doesn't acknowledge that in an inequitable system, people with money moving back into the city is a good thing, and in cleveland right now, we've got more than enough space for everyone.

so what is your plan? working with or against or outside the system, how would you solve these problems? pretend you actually have to address the same issues CMHA does. if that's too hard - which, from reading that article, it clearly is - lay out your ideas for what independent actors and collectives can do to help house our neighbors.

add your comments


a plan that works
by kris Monday, Feb. 16, 2004 at 4:57 PM

well, one thing would be to actually space out the public housing units. instead of designating entire areas or neighborhoods for public housing, do it little by little. wherever you see a new house going up inbetween other houses, we could be building public housing. on all those empty cornor lots all over the city, we could put up a few more units. there's really no lack of space for small public housing units. and if we were to put four or five units in an existing neighborhood we also probably wouldn't need the CMHA police (the existing neighborhood would function just fine).

i think it's partially a matter of breaking the mindset that "all the the poor people have to live in the same area so we can keep an eye on them". public housing could be scattered out over the entire city.

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