HCC should direct its efforts towards fighting blight

Dear Editor,

After reading the Opinion piece, “Heights Community Congress still fighting” in the last issue of the Heights Observer, I decided Heights Community Congress (HCC) has lost touch with our community and is on the way to becoming irrelevant. Diversity is what HCC claims to honor and promote, and no doubt it did at one time. But HCC no longer does, as far as I can tell. HCC is stuck in the past and chastises our community on the grounds that we remain a hotbed of housing discrimination.  

The study by Housing Research and Advocacy Center (HRAC), which was cited in the piece, trotted out the same statistics that have been analyzed in previous works by NEO CANDO at Case Western Reserve University and other researchers. We all know racial disparities in utilizing sub-prime loans exist; the question is why? 

HRAC should have used its tax funding to focus on the experiences of people involved with sub-prime lending. A qualitative study, researched by talking with members of the African-American community and all others who used sub-prime mortgages, would actually be helpful to the community.

If HCC wants to fight for diversity and social justice it should work to stop the resegregation of our city by race and class. HCC should come to my part of town, where there is a concentration of foreclosed and empty houses, poor people and African-Americans. 

I would like HCC to come and fight for all of us--black, white and Asian--who try to prevent further deterioration in our neighborhoods. We know that our futures are locked together. We all live here together and need HCC and other organizations to help us maintain diversity and quality of life in our neighborhoods.

I once supported HCC, and even worked as a tester. Perhaps the only common ground that I share with HCC now is the recognition that African-Americans historically suffered great obstacles to economic security and wealth. And, as a group, maybe they are more vulnerable economically and have more to lose if our community declines.

So, I suggest that HCC reinvent itself and put its principals of social justice and diversity to the test: 1. Move HCC headquarters into an area of Cleveland Heights in economic decline; 2. Raise money or raise enough hell to re-open Denison pool, which would serve an area of Cleveland Heights with a large percentage of poor children; 3. Re-invent the Heights Heritage Home and Garden Tour to allow citizens to view neglected properties; 4. Invest in green space or a Cityfresh program that would benefit lower income families; and 5. Focus community attention on neglected properties to force homeowners and landlords to make much needed improvements. 

HCC, stop blaming the community. Bring your helping hands and fighting spirit to my part of town. We would welcome you with open arms---just like we do with everyone else. 

Fran Mentch

Lynn Park Drive

Cleveland Heights

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Volume 2, Issue 4, Posted 12:07 PM, 03.22.2009