Motil Addresses Ginther’s Unnecessary Tax Abatement Policies & His Failure to Address the Homeless
COLUMBUS, OH – Columbus Democrat and mayoral candidate Joe Motil held a press conference Saturday November 4, at 1pm. It took place outside where West Williams Road dead ends, west of the South High Street and West Williams Road intersection.
Mr. Motil discussed the Columbus Dispatch story, “Franklin County becomes the tax abatement capital of Ohio” and today’s “Heer to Serve” press release from Ms. Emily Myers concerning our city’s homeless problems. The text of Ms. Myer’s Press Release is quoted below.
HEER TO SERVE PRESS RELEASE
NOVEMBER 3RD 2023
Far south side unhoused to be evicted from their makeshift homes; mutual aid group Heer to Serve asks community to help advocate for those affected
The City of Columbus, along with Columbus Police and private contractors, will soon evict more than 30 unhoused individuals living in tents and other makeshift shelters on the Southside of Columbus. This is far from the first camp sweep the city has been involved in in 2023, a year that has seen the eviction and bulldozing of dozens of camps. Mutual aid group Heer to Serve has been providing necessary and emergency items to and conducting outreach and programming with people who are unsheltered on the Southside for the past three years. The group is asking fellow community members to help advocate for their neighbors whose homes the city plans to bulldoze.
“Housing is a human right,” said Heer to Serve founder Emily Myers. “People should not be dying on our streets due to exposure to the elements and yet it happens every year, with both extreme heat and cold. The City of Columbus continually fails its most vulnerable members as rather than addressing the needs of our houseless population it simply keeps pushing them out of the makeshift homes they have made out of necessity. The goal seems to be to push and push and push them until they have succeeded in pushing them outside the city limits so they’re no longer in Columbus or Franklin County for that matter.”
The City has received significant funding from the federal government to help address “homelessness,” a condition that rose by 20% from 2022 to 2023 according to point in time counts conducted by the Community Shelter Board. The board reported that the City of Columbus had 2,337 unhoused residents in January 2023 compared to 1,912 the same month in 2022. According to CSB data request, there are currently roughly only 2,600 permanent supportive housing units that are used by programs to house unsheltered individuals, with the majority of this capacity already being full with others utilizing the program previously.
“And yet the city sent $1.1 million in unused housing funds back to the federal government,” Myers said. “Meanwhile, the city spent $173,000 evicting, leveling and remediating camps of people with nowhere else to go, who had their only homes bulldozed from January to August.”
Tyrall is one of the people who has been impacted by multiple city-ordered camp sweeps and who will have to relocate again soon. This will be his seventh eviction. He has lived in the woods for the better part of a decade, and he has been forced to relocate his tent six times already, and each time he does so his community ties are threatened as it is not always possible for entire encampments to relocate together.
“I don’t even know what it feels like to be housed anymore, because it has been so long,” he said. “As a former foster kid who lost his home and has been in the woods for over 10 years, these people I live with are the only family I’ve ever known, and the city continuously keeps trying to rip it away from me. I don’t feel like anybody outside this camp cares about me.”
Another camp resident facing eviction, Amanda, echoed the sentiment that the city does not care about how its camp sweeps impact those who are struggling each day with the challenges of being unhoused.
“They don’t even look at us as human beings while they bulldoze our entire homes before our eyes,” she said.
Myers said the reality is, people who are living in tent camps would prefer to be in houses or apartments but cannot afford them. From 2017 to 2021, she shares, Franklin County lost 38,000 apartments that previously rented for less than $900 a month or less due to property values increasing. Columbus has been growing rapidly and the housing market – especially housing that is affordable – has not kept pace.
“By 2026, there will be more luxury housing in Columbus than any other type of housing,” she said. “Meanwhile, the deficit of available affordable housing continues to grow with over 54,000 affordable housing units being needed NOW.”
“From 2016-2020 the City of Columbus saw a 56 percent increase in luxury housing being built. In the same time period, there was only a 3 percent increase in the construction of affordable housing,” Emily Myers said.
“With the shortage of affordable housing increasing, the number of people forced out onto the streets and into the woods has continued to climb, our city has turned a blind eye to this crisis,” Myers said. “They want to sweep this under the rug. In fact, they are so determined to prevent us from protesting these evictions and calling attention to them that they have refused to provide fair warning to the residents of the latest camp targeted as to the exact date the evictions will be enforced, making it extremely difficult for us to help them prepare to move.
“The city, especially the homeless advocacy liaison Marcus Johnson via e-mail, cannot answer the question the residents are all asking: ‘where are we supposed to go?’ Shelters are not the answer. Housing is. So where are people supposed to go with no housing after their tent has been bulldozed?”
Heer to Serve is asking all who read this to join them in contacting the City of Columbus and sharing the following list of demands:
1. We demand that the City of Columbus STOP THE SWEEPS and end all evictions of the encampments around the city. Police should not be harassing the unhoused, destroying their belongings and chasing them out of their camps!
2. We demand one year of hotel or motel housing for all unhoused people in Columbus, without means testing or barriers. The City of Columbus has more than enough funds, and there is more than enough unoccupied space for everyone to have a roof over their heads!
3. We demand that before that year of hotel or motel housing ends, the City of Columbus arranges permanent supportive housing for all unhoused people in Columbus, without means testing or barriers. Housing first is evidence based, best practice and is the most effective way to get people housed!
*Our city’s leaders need to make policy based on this real-world evidence, not based on profits, developers, and real-estate markets! *
4. We demand wrap- around services for the residents staying in the hotel/motel for the duration of their entire stay. This includes medical care, mental health care, case management, emotional care and support, as well as harm reduction-based practices in regards to the entire overall program.
Please join us in making these demands so our residents living here can be housed. So they can be safe. So we can stop the city and state sanctioned violence against unsheltered people. The time is now to stand up against this horrible and inhumane treatment.
Heer To Serve
FB and Instagram: @heertoserve