14 April 2008

Urban Homestead Bill

Not sure why this Urban Homestead Bill which has been developing in the State legislature for the past year, has gotten no ink in Cincinnati.

The Bill is not being touted as a way to improve education but rather a way to help revitalize cities. That's one problem, but the other is that it appears to only help homeowners. What about renters? Another goofy part of the bill allows the use of these tax dollars for the hiring of private security. I understand the intention, but this seems way off base and I believe it would also be ineffectual. I mean, why not improve the existing schools and improve the existing police force? It feels like they are trying to establish suburban type enclaves in the city.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Schools and crime send many urban dwellers to the suburbs.

Attempting to reverse that trend, a Republican state legislator from Hilliard is pushing legislation that would give qualifying home buyers in blighted areas of Columbus and seven other Ohio cities vouchers to send their children to private schools and allow the families to hire private security for the neighborhood.

"I have lots of friends who moved to German Village, got married, and the first kid comes along, and boom, they move to the suburbs," said Rep. Larry Wolpert, who has dubbed House Bill 26 the "Urban Homestead Bill."

"It's crime and education. Those are the two reasons they leave."

Some education groups oppose the proposal.

What Wolpert sees as an effort to revitalize Ohio's urban centers, critics complain represents another effort to undermine public schools by using tax dollars to send students to private schools.

"House Bill 26 takes a counterproductive approach to urban revitalization by seeking to help cities at the expense of public schools," said Matthew Dotson of the Ohio Education Association, the state's largest teachers union and a leading opponent of voucher programs.
.....

Wolpert said it's difficult to tackle urban blight and revitalization without addressing schools. "This is not a voucher bill; it's a bill to revitalize our urban core," he said.
...
A revised version of the bill, under review in a House committee, would allow city residents to create an "urban homestead zone" where residents have spent at least $120,000 to buy a house or at least $40,000 to renovate one.

Part of their property taxes would finance the private-school vouchers. Families living in the zone also would have the opportunity to assess themselves for security beyond the local police force.
...
Wolpert said that unlike other efforts to build lofts and other Downtown housing best suited for singles and childless couples, his plan is intended to help families with youngsters...


Here is an article that supports the legislation.

8 comments:

justforview said...

This seems like a bit of a misnomer given the Urban Homesteading that happened in the 80's in places like Baltimore. Maybe it should be called the suburban relocation bill.

gerard said...

"allow the families to hire private security for the neighborhood."

WTF? Taxes for private security vouchers? I'll need to read the whole thing carefully later, but off the top of my head, that is one of the most absurd things I have ever heard.

VisuaLingual said...

Wow, this does not sound like at all like any homesteading initiative I've ever heard of, and it does sound just like a voucher program, among other things. I'm not an expert in thse matters, but I also take issue with the fact that a specific dollar amount would enable residents to create this zone, and I also don't understand what lofts or other housing types have to do with any of this.

Per your comment that "they are trying to establish suburban type enclaves in the city," that's exactly what this sounds like. In fact, a lot of what I hear happening, or being proposed, in Ohio cities [and maybe elsewhere?] sounds like that. It's distressing and illogical to me, but I guess it's all about giving people what they want, and if this is what they want, then...

Mark Miller said...

We already have a voucher program for failing schools. If it needs to be expanded, then do it under the existing legislation. Creating another one with different rules and funding sources is just confusing for everybody.

We already have police too. Private security forces with vague powers and an overlapping mission create too much confusion as well. Plus police work is one of the few functions that government consistently performs much better than the private sector.

This bill is a non-starter on so many levels it's mind-boggling. Just fix what's broken...we don't need a whole new layer of government.

columbus exile said...

I love it when suburban Reps. put up urban improvement legislation! How kind of him to support the plight of us poor urban dwellers.

The idea of education vouchers may have some merit to it and maybe should be looked into further. But private security vouchers? I don't want Blackwater doing security for my neighborhood.

Let this one spend a little more time in committee.

Chris S said...

Also, consider that if urban homeowners want to work together to bring extra "security" they can form special improvement districts and use the funds from those assessments to bring actual police officers to patrol, or hire neighborhood ambassodors (one of the uses of the current downtown SID), etc.

VitalityOTR is currently working on doing something similar, but the establishment of the SID is still a bit of a ways out.

CityKin said...

^ Good point, SIDs are already working in many neighborhoods.

Kevin LeMaster said...

"I have lots of friends who moved to German Village, got married, and the first kid comes along, and boom, they move to the suburbs."

Yeah, because when I think of rough urban neighborhoods, the first one that comes to mind is German Village....