J U S T I N J E F F R E A N D M I C H A E L E A R L P AT T O N P R E S E N T. . .

The Comprehensive Neighborhood Rescue Plan
Strategies to Engage, Empower, and Improve Our Communities
T h e E l e v e n P o i n t s o f P r o g r e s s
! Recycling Building Materials ! Locally-Based Sustainable Living ! The City’s Role in Supporting Neighborhoods.

!

! Defining “Assets” ! The Untapped Potential of Vacant Buildings ! Entrusting Neighborhood Assets to Local Stakeholders

! Establishing a Trained Work Force ! Practical Education for Students ! Community Redevelopment Trusts

! Strengthening Neighborhood Business Districts ! Community Council Congress

!

A real plan for real people
The Neighborhood Rescue Plan is a vision for rebuilding Cincinnati’s economy and community hand in hand, block by block. By thoughtfully identifying, engaging, and combining underutilized resources, every neighborhood in the city can transform its existing assets into permanent economic and cultural strengths. With initial leadership at the city level, communities can plan, build, and control their own futures. Groups of communities can share assets for short- and long-term projects that will benefit all of them and allow each to maintain its individual character.

Defining “Assets”
Every neighborhood has something to offer – under-used housing stock or commercial property, historic architecture, unique cultural attractions, skilled specialists, entrepreneurs with energy and ideas, individuals or institutions with spare investment capital, a thriving business district, projects that need workers, or workers that need jobs. By emphasizing its strengths, a community can find ways to use them to expand its capacity in other areas. We encourage each neighborhood to take an inventory of what it has and discuss ideas to exchange those resources for what it needs to get what it wants. Existing organizations such as Cincinnati Neighborhood Business Districts United, the Community Development Corporations Association of Greater Cincinnati, and Xavier University’s Community Building Institute can help neighborhood groups find potential sources of funding and assistance with grant applications, project planning, and other services.

Justin Jeffre, who is endorsed by the Southwest Ohio Green Party, believes in putting people first.

the same time, our vacant buildings and those in advanced states of disrepair are not living up to their potential. They are frequently eyesores and magnets for crime. With some creativity and political will, we can put these properties in the hands of their neighbors, who have a direct interest in turning them around and finding a productive use for them. In extreme cases, where there are active safety or structural concerns about a privately held building and the landlord is unresponsive, the city may need to order its disassembly (see page 4). Allowing the property to continue to decay and cause problems for the neighborhood would be irresponsible.

Entrusting Neighborhood Assets to Local Stakeholders
Most people can readily identify the problem properties close to where they live – nobody knows the neighborhood like the neighbors. Under the Neighborhood Rescue Plan, local residents will control programs to repopulate and rehabilitate vacant buildings in each neighborhood. Since this work can be done more quickly by 40 to 50 neighborhoods than a centralized agency, we call on the city to begin transferring deeds to the properties it currently holds to community councils and neighborhood development corporations. Community members will inspect the properties, evaluate their potential based on local needs and market conditions, and restore them to an appropriate use. Homes can be offered to low-income families, seniors, teachers, or public employees. Renters’ equity programs can be used to help responsible tenants become homeowners.

Michael Earl Patton, who is endorsed by the Hamilton County Libertarian Party, knows the issues.

The Untapped Potential of Vacant Buildings
One of Cincinnati’s greatest assets is its housing stock. Inspiring architecture and well-built homes can be found throughout the city. At

Paid for by Jeffre for Council, Gwen Marshall, Treasurer!

1

T H E

C O M P R E H E N S I V E

N E I G H B O R H O O D

R E S C U E

P L A N

Establishing a Trained Work Force
Multiple new rehabilitation projects will require a labor force. Local contractors will be hired to oversee the rehabilitation work and remediate hazardous materials. In exchange, the contractors will agree to provide livingwage jobs and vocational training opportunities for unemployed and under-employed residents. The trainees will learn building trades, supervisory skills, and other professional skills such as accounting and project management. Since the projects will be located in their communities, transportation to the job site will not be an obstacle for most workers. Cincinnati Public Schools and labor unions can support the training component by providing facilities for evening classes and expert instructors. Training for neighborhood projects can also be integrated into unemployment or re-entry programs. Residents who participate in the training program will gain a sense of ownership in their community and can use the skills they learn to find permanent jobs.

for construction projects. In any form, the CRT will serve as both a managing entity for neighborhood assets and a way for residents to invest directly in the community.

Strengthening Neighborhood Business Districts
Vital neighborhood business districts are essential to great communities. They provide jobs, opportunities for neighbors to get to know each other, and convenience. Shopping at neighborhood stores is also a socially and environmentally responsible choice because it supports a cluster of stores that many residents can walk to rather than driving several miles. Stable business districts foster community pride and can be catalysts for some neighborhoods to distinguish themselves as destinations for cultural tourism, antiques shopping, night life, etc. Establishing a specialized identity helps a neighborhood appeal to visitors and residents seeking a unique experience. The anchors of neighborhood business districts are locally-owned independent shops. By supporting and promoting locally-owned businesses, Cincinnati can reverse its negative cash flow. Locally-owned businesses buy more of their supplies from nearby, and all of their profits stay in the community. By contrast, stores with headquarters in far-away states send millions of Cincinnatians’ dollars to other cities every year. In order to increase the presence and impact of locally-owned independent businesses, all of the independent businesses in the city should organize an alliance that will function as a mutual protection society, a networking vehicle, and a political lobbying bloc. The city can support this alliance by promoting a “Shop Cincinnati” advertising campaign that emphasizes the benefits of local ownership; by giving purchasing and contracting preferences to businesses owned and operated by city residents; and by sponsoring grants for students graduating from UC’s College of Business who submit proposals for new businesses in a competition and commit to operating them here. Subsidies and other economic incentives should be reserved for local businesses. National big-box retailers already enjoy a dominant market position that has put great pressure on independent businesses, and have no legitimate need for government assistance. At the neighborhood level, communities should identify businesses they would like to add to their business districts and advertise widely for specific opportunities, seeking local entrepreneurs whenever possible. At the same time, they should identify the types of busiPaid for by Jeffre for Council, Gwen Marshall, Treasurer

FRIENDS,
It is with great pride that we unveil our “Comprehensive Neighborhood Rescue Plan” for the citizens of Cincinnati. We have spent the last two years studying the issues that face our City, trying our best to find realistic solutions that empower citizens, as opposed to the status quo of City Hall politicians giving handouts to the favored few. We hope you will spend some time considering our ideas, and we hope, when it comes time to vote on Election Day, you will cast your ballot for the candidates who have ideas best matched to your own. It is our firm belief that our collaboration across party lines indicates the real moderate political stance for an independently minded Cincinnati – a stance not created by the artificial constraints of big-money, corporate politics. Thanks for taking the time to review our plan, and thank you for your vote on November 6th! Respectfully yours,

Practical Education for Students
High schools’ curricula should include instruction in practical skills (housekeeping, basic repairs, and money management) as well as optional vocational training classes. In order to retain more of the students who do not attend college after high school, schools should offer a vocational track that will equip graduates with skills that will help them find good jobs in addition to a diploma. With improved short-term prospects after graduation, these young people may be in a position to attend college or open their own businesses a few years later. Cincinnati Public Schools should also endeavor to have a school operating in every neighborhood, at least through the elementary level. Larger schools serving multiple neighborhoods increase travel times and exacerbate traffic congestion.

Community Redevelopment Trusts
In addition to building communities’ reserves of active skilled workers, the Neighborhood Rescue Plan will also provide means for holding property and cash in trust for the community, in Community Redevelopment Trusts (CRTs). A CRT may take various forms, from a simple bank account held by a community council or other existing group, to an independent neighborhood bank. A neighborhood bank would be able to provide a full range of financial services, such as lowinterest mortgages and micro-loans for local entrepreneurs, free investment counseling, and financial literacy classes. CRTs’ profits will be used to support neighborhood projects. A mature CRT can also provide staged financing

Justin Jeffre and Michael Earl Patton

2!

T H E

C O M P R E H E N S I V E

N E I G H B O R H O O D

R E S C U E

P L A N

with few opportunities for advancement or specialized training. Training provided as part of public contracts will provide a way for some minority employees to become independent contractors, which will facilitate higher inclusion targets. Policy-makers must take care to ensure that contract provisions specifically address inclusion of racial minorities. Inclusion targets that apply to both minority-owned and women-owned enterprises may tend to diminish the amount of contract money ultimately paid to minorities. nesses that they judge to have detrimental social effects, and the city should grant them the authority to block the sale of commercial space to such businesses. community gardens we’ve already mentioned and housing and dining co-ops. Although these are currently seen as “alternatives” to conventional single-family living, they are examples of how small groups of people can live more economically by sharing some of their work and expenses. We would like to see these kinds of arrangements emerge in many different communities. *Establishing an ombudsman who can investigate claims of abuse by inspectors or other city employees. *Streamlining the permitting process for simple remodeling jobs, which will make it easier for property owners to maintain their buildings. *Ending or substantially revising the chronic nuisance ordinance. In its current form, the ordinance unreasonably holds landlords responsible for even minor infractions committed by tenants and inhibits positive policecommunity relations. *Reviving the “dollar house” program, offering city-owned buildings that aren’t slated for Neighborhood Rescue projects for sale for one dollar to residents who commit to repairing structural problems and living in the house for a minimum period. This program can be a successful complement to the Neighborhood Rescue Plan if it’s re-introduced without many of the burdensome requirements of its previous incarnation. *Expanding local police presence by maintaining more substations in the city. *Working with the county and the public library to open library branches in neighborhoods that don’t have them and restore service levels at branches that have had to reduce hours.

Community Council Congress
Representatives of every neighborhood in the city will convene quarterly to share ideas on community building, beautification, crime prevention, building preservation, reclaiming fallow property, marketing historical assets, and other related topics. Through these meetings, communities will identify common needs that can be presented by the Congress to the city with specific legislative or procedural recommendations. Neighborhoods will benefit from each others’ experience by learning about approaches to various issues that have worked well and those that have been less successful. The Congress will serve as an ongoing neighborhood improvement forum, and also as a networking opportunity for communities with shared geographic, institutional, and/or economic interests to begin collaboration on partnership projects. These projects may involve bringing together different types of resources from each community to achieve particular goals.

The City’s Role in Supporting Neighborhoods
City-level economic and personnel policies have a direct impact on the ability of neighborhoods to maintain properties that enhance the community, vital business districts, and a population of productive residents. Some ways that the city can contribute to these goals, in addition to those mentioned previously, are: *Hiring only Cincinnati residents for all future openings in every department, with a goal of city residents representing at least 90% of the work force. This policy will help keep as many Cincinnatians employed as possible and will keep more tax money in the city’s economy. Although exceptions can be made for specialized positions requiring a broader search for qualified candidates, people who work for the city should live in the city. Like the trainees in the neighborhood projects, resident city employees will also have a sense of ownership that will motivate them to do their best. *Applying the business incubator concept to a new program focused on building contractors. A contractors’ incubator could help contractors gain experience and build up a customer base during their first few years of operation by assisting with phone and mail service, billing, bookkeeping, supply storage, and other tasks. *Improving minority inclusion targets and adding job training requirements to public contracts. In a city with nearly 50% minority residents, inclusion requirements should be at least 25% (or higher when possible). Many minority residents are in low-level positions

Recycling Building Materials
Vacant buildings in extremely poor condition cannot be successfully remodeled without excessive expense. Under current policy, they are demolished, and the debris goes to landfills. A more responsible approach, which could be utilized in Neighborhood Rescue projects, would be to disassemble the buildings rather than demolish them. Salvageable pieces would be removed intact and sold, recycled, or used for other projects. For example, the interior layer of many older buildings’ outer covering is higher-grade wood than is generally found in modern construction.

Conclusion
Our vision can directly benefit a community by providing jobs and training opportunities for residents while deterring crime and maintaining property values. Many of these ideas can be accomplished by citizens taking the initiative and working together. The most successful projects will involve creative thinking and the combined commitment and efforts of many individuals – sometimes even a neighborhood’s entire population. While extensive planning and negotiation may be necessary to reach agreement on some issues, the goal of self-reliance will help stakeholders create meaningful projects for their communities.
3

Locally Based Sustainable Living
As neighborhoods across the city undertake these initiatives, we encourage them to leave room in their plans for models of sustainable production and consumption, such as the

Paid for by Jeffre for Council, Gwen Marshall, Treasurer!