The new soccer stadium in Cincinnati’s West End neighborhood, which is still under construction, may displace a number of longtime residents.
According the Cincinnati Enquirer, as many as 17 people will have to relocate from properties currently owned by FC Cincinnati. Many don’t have anywhere to go, prompting social justice advocates to object to a planned expansion of the stadium site to be considered by a city board Monday night.
"That promise has been broken and it further erodes our ability to trust FCC to keep their word," Tia Brown, a spokeswoman for Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses, a West End-based social service agency, told the Enquirer.
Brown said residents in the area had feared from the beginning of the stadium building process that they would be pushed out of the neighborhood. "Those fears were called unfounded and an emotional response to change,” she said. “But we all now see those fears were and are valid."
FC Cincinnati has scaled back its expansion request, which spared some residents from having to move.
“We understand some tenants in Wade St and Central Ave properties need more time to find housing and are sympathetic to their needs," said FC Cincinnati president and general manager Jeff Berding. "We are working diligently to assist tenants."
Social justice advocates say more needs to be done to protect residents.
Josh Spring, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, is calling for council to pass legislation that says developers who get any benefits – tax abatements, discounted land or zoning changes — cannot displace residents.
"If we continue to allow all this to just run amok through our community, we’re going to continue to split up neighborhoods, split up neighbors, increase homelessness," Spring said.
FC Cincinnati is funding a housing study of the neighborhood, which is expected to be completed this summer. Preliminary data shown to council last week showed everyone who rents a market-rate property and three-fourths of all homeowners in the neighborhood are at poverty level and at risk of losing their homes even before the stadium is built.