Friday, May 05, 2000
Public housing tenants agree to move
By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer
NEWPORT With public housing residents backing their plans a feat at least three years in the making Newport Housing Authority officials think they have a better chance at receiving a $30 million federal grant to move the housing off prime riverfront property.
Approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would guarantee that 202 public housing units north of Fourth Street would be razed. But residents now have assurance that they'd get first dibs on new and renovated housing promised for throughout the city.
On Wednesday, Billie Russell, chair of the Residents Council, signed a resolution indicating her approval of the application. She also agreed that public housing residents would be assured 182 of the 300-plus homes and apartments that the city and hous ing authority want to build for low- and moderate-income families.
Newport plans to tear down the public housing units and sell the valuable land beneath them to private investors. The so-called Hope VI grant, meant to pay for the replacement of obsolete low-income housing, would be the primary funding mechanism.
It seems like the best agreement that we're going to get out of this, Ms. Rus sell said.
The Residents Council approved the application, which will be sent to HUD in the next two weeks.
Dick Cullison, of the Northern Kentucky Legal Aid Society, had advised the council, which has been negotiating with housing au thority officials.
It's a deal that's in all the residents' interest, Mr. Cullison said. They have an underlying contract for what happens if the grant is approved.
He predicted that the residents' approval sweetens the Hope VI application, which will be a joint effort by the city and housing authority. Federal officials denied a 1999 application, but at the time, residents were opposing the plans because they didn't like the idea of leaving their longtime homes.
If our opposition was a significant impediment, I would guess that our endorsement would be a significant asset this time, Mr. Cullison said.
Mark Brown, housing authority executive director, said the residents' approval can only help.
Anything like that is an indication that should be looked upon favorably, he said. It shows a cooperative spirit on all parts.
Mayor Tom Guidugli, also a housing authority member, never expected opposition from residents for so long.
We tried and tried to explain, he said. But everybody's afraid of change. I guess it's a matter of trust.
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