Housing is a human right, not a commodity – Activist say no Church+State development.

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Cleveland – On Thursday, January 24, as elected officials and developers break ground to celebrate the construction of the $60 million Church+State development on Detroit Avenue, community members and local activists will gather in opposition to yet another high-end development on the Near West Side of Cleveland.

Fueled by government money, The Church+State development represents a total disconnect from the deep need for affordable housing options in the city, especially in the Ohio City area. Rather than investing in safe affordable housing, elected officials with the support of community development corporations, continue to provide millions of dollars to high-end developers and fail to invest any money to maintain or build new affordable units.

Meanwhile, as developers and their supporters celebrate the new building that will rent apartments for $2,750 to $3,900 a month, long-term residents are being evicted from nearby 4409 Franklin Avenue and historic residents of lower and fixed incomes struggle to pay their rising property taxes and are being forced to displace from the community. 

“When I first moved to Ohio City, this community was the home for low-income and working class folks. Nobody I know who lives in this neighborhood can afford these prices.” said Paula Miller, neighborhood resident and member of the Catholic Worker Community. “We used to be a place for people struggling to find refuge-–shelter, a free meal, a friendly face. Now our community is sold to the highest paying developer with no regard for those that need affordable housing. Today, we are here to say enough! Housing is a human right not a commodity.”

Over the last ten years, the Near West Side of Cleveland, particularly Ohio City, has seen rapid gentrification that displaces people of color as well as social services that were historically part of the community from the neighborhood. According to the Progress Index, a neighborhood data tool developed by Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at Case Western Reserve University, since 2006 Ohio City has lost 11.7% of its black population and 31% of its Hispanic population. Furthermore, agencies that provided important service in the community have left-- for example, the former Near West Community House location is now a high-end coffee shop and apartments; soon, Vantage Place, a residential assisted living center for people with mental illness, will become luxury suites.

“We are a community that welcomes those most in need,” says Paula Kampf a resident of Ohio City. The unending building of apartments that only wealthy people can afford, like this one, send a message to the poor and working class that they are not welcomed here anymore.”