When I first moved to Over-the-Rhine in 2004, the building next to ours on Race Street in Cincinnati, the one at 13th and Race streets, was akin to tenement housing with, if I recall correctly, around 40 single-room “apartments” that shared a bathroom on each floor. I never went inside because of the sounds I heard outside from next door. Let’s say I was a lot curious, but even more afraid.
Then, came the Model Group, which gutted the place, and with the help of tax credits and other assistance, remodeled the inside into 20ish “town home” income-sensitive apartments that ranged from two to three bedrooms apiece. The place changed dramatically from a flophouse to a place where families lived. After the noisy remodeling job (progress does come at a price – in my case, peace and quiet), I went on the opening day tour. Wow. It was great inside.
The few years after the remodeling job it has remained (my recollection ending when I moved to Mount Washington in September 2008), relatively the same. Few police calls (I noticed only a few) and relative quiet, aside from the occaisional loud stereo. About a year before I moved I began to notice the front entrance had become a hang-out for wh0-knows-who, but it stayed much better than it was.
All this jibber jabber is all a roundabout way of saying that mixed socio-economic backgrounds do co-exsist peacefully in Over-the-Rhine and its a pattern that should continue until the whole giant-sized neighborhood is reformed. Having a nice place to live, something most people I know take for granted, is a small thing with a big impact on those who know nothing better. That’s why when a friend, who happens to enter a lot of Cincinnati public housing and tells me most of them are pretty dodgy at best, sent me this photo from the inside of one of them. If people are using the outside of the places that they live – or their guests, visitors or neighbors are doing it – something ain’t working. A sign like the one below ought to be a clear sign that the model might be a bit broken…
I wonder how many people were peeing under the sign while they were reading this? Or, read it and then thought, “Hey, you know, I really should pee outside, go in my apartment and pee or knock on a door and see if anyone will let me pee in their apartment instead?” Probably a lot.