by M. Stewart
Today's Review carries a story about last night's East Liverpool City Council discussion of subsidized housing in the city. We can thank council members Brian Kerr and Sherrie Curtis for their willingness to ask questions and demand information before inviting still more subsidized residents into town.
One telling response came when Kerr asked about how the townships participate in subsidized living. According to the newspaper, CMHA's Tom Snow responded by saying the program was only for the three cities in the county. Why doesn't that surprise me?
Curtis asked for addresses of CMHA clients already in the city so she could check with the police chief regarding crime statistics associated with them. In addition to the homes CMHA operates here, there are several apartment complexes. Perhaps Sherrie also can gather crime statistics associated with those addresses. I think it would be useful to know the total number of people in East Liverpool who are living in subsidized housing. As well, it would be useful to know the names and addresses of CMHA-subsidized landlords. Exactly who profits from this system?
When Kerr pushed the issue and mentioned specific scenarios of antisocial, criminal and destructive behavior, Snow said that CMHA leaves the eviction of problem tenants up to the landlord. Apparently he had nothing to say about a recent letter to the editor that accused him of failing to act against problem tenants at a property he owns.
It's clear that what we need is real data involving CMHA's effect on the city, and I applaud Kerr and Curtis for their efforts to find such data. The problem is that it will take a serious research effort to locate and apply all the variables that come into play. Anecdotal evidence from homeowners living near CMHA housing is hard to quantify, and it's clear that all the people actually living in CMHA rental units may not be on the record. In other words, it will be difficult to obtain data about people who merely "stay" in any given unit.
What we are seeing here is a good start, and I hope the effort continues. Investigating East Liverpool's poverty industry is a long-term commitment.