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Eviction is Violence meeting held for Victoria Square tenants in Newport’s Bernadette Watkins Park

By Alexia Dolan
NKyTribune intern

The Cincinnati Housing Justice Coalition (CHJC) held an emergency housing meeting at Newport’s Bernadette Watkins Park, in collaboration with the Victoria Square tenants who are concerned about the future, after receiving notices from private developer, Sunset Property Solutions, that many were required to vacate their apartments by the end of October.

Long-time resident, George Campbell, opened the meeting with an anecdote about his perspective on Newport’s transition through time.

“I’ve lived down here most of my life and I actually grew up in the demolished housing projects across the street, that is supposedly a sign of progress– but we’re here to discuss the human element of things,” Campbell said.

Victoria Square resident George Campbell speaks at microphone (Photos by Alexia Dolan/NKyTribune)

Last week, the Westside Citizen’s Housing Coalition and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), also held meetings regarding community concerns on the impending move in the near future. Seven housing-related social service agencies, as well as members of Newport city government, attended to provide answers to some of the questions residents had about opportunities for assistance during this time of need.

Campbell also mentions a few sentiments about what the Newport and Victoria Square community means to him and fellow neighbors.

“SPS asked us to give up our homes and move, so that somebody else can have a better life and make more money, but for some of us, it's not about the money,” Campbell said. “It’s about our friends and relationships we’ve gathered up since we’ve been here.”

The first two meetings did not meet resident’s standards. Many were left with more unanswered questions than they came with. CHJC’S Organizer, Hayley Powell, recognized her new community’s disappointment and created this emergency, tenant-led meeting, allowing Victoria Square residents a chance to have an honest, open dialogue with their neighbors, as well as brainstorm potential solutions to concerns through interactive breakout groups.

“I’ve talked to a fair amount of people who are going through health issues because of this,” Powell said. “I met a veteran with COPD and he said he can’t make it down the stairs anymore now, because this news is taking such a toll on him and I’ve even spoken to people who have already been to the hospital twice for a nervous breakdown.”

In breakout groups, residents received an agenda with a list of three questions about the concerns the eviction crisis imposed upon them. Catharine Chandler, resident and GoFundMe organizer, relayed her biggest concern and the most valuable way supporters can assist.

“In my experience with rental assistance, they only have assistance for about two weeks and we need more funding for that. We need more money to be able to assist these people right now and we’ve also been trying to work on getting a GoFundMe started for residents to help with moving expenses,” Chandler said as she asks for support in spreading the word, by hanging QR codes she made with the GoFundMe link, www.gofund.me/bbb8e01c.

CHJC Member Amber Wood speaks to the crowd.

Judy Kappas, Newport native who has a large influence on the people of Victoria Square, noticed SPS management made a social media post, with mention of purchasing the apartment complex in 2016, that has since been removed.

“I understand this was in the making six years ago and all they are throwing at us is bread crumbs,” Kappas said. “SPS should have let us know in advance, instead of giving us two months.”

CHJC member, Amber Wood, initiated the meeting’s conclusion with potential resources the coalition has to offer the residents at this time, including moving assistance and supplies. The crowd roared with excitement as she expressed her distaste for SPS’s and the city of Newport’s negligence.

“There are things we cannot even ask of these owners, but we have to ask of the city and those are things like funding shelters,” Wood said. “This is a city level problem that is easily solved and instead of giving tax breaks to these developers, they could be giving it to the people who built this city and should be able to afford to live in it.”

CHJC encourages residents and allies to attend the upcoming Newport City Board of Commissioner’s meeting at 5 p.m. on August 22, to rally in support of the devastating news the Victoria Square residents desperately need help dealing with. If interested in providing assistance, the CHJC also recommends signing up for MutualAid to get involved in a community initiative.

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One Comment

  1. Kyle Randall says:

    Newport Board of Commissioner’s meeting on Aug 22nd is at 7 p.m.

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