Communities United For Action
CUFA Wins Commitments from County Commissioners to Work for Lower Sewer Rates, Cleaner Water and Jobs.
On Monday, October 27th, 85 CUFA members and members of the public met with Hamilton County Commissioners Todd Portune and Chris Monzel and Hamilton County Administrator Christian Sigman to push for affordable sewer bills, fixing sewer overflows, and creating local job opportunities on large public works projects.
CUFA members spoke out, and the public officials listened. CUFA won agreements on:
- Publicly accounting for the money spent and progress made on Project Groundwork.
This $4 billion public works project is designed to fix sewage overflow problems in the county. CUFA members expressed concerns regarding lack of public accountability and slow progress getting the problems fixed. Commissioner Portune committed to making the budget more easily understood. Commissioner Monzel said, "Mayor Cranley and I are creating a scorecard reporting system" to make the reporting more transparent.
- Developing a program to help low income people and people on fixed incomes pay their sewer bills.
Commissioner Portune stated that sewer bills have increased 130% over the last 10 years. "We cannot afford to continue these increases," said CUFA member Clark Beck. "My neighbors are being forced to choose between paying for food and paying their water bills." The commissioners agreed to convene a committee to develop a program for low-income sewer customers. They also stated they would support measures to reduce the cost of fixing Hamilton County's sewer problems while meeting the requirements of the Clean Water Act.
- Hiring and training local people for the jobs on Project Groundwork.
Both commissioners committed to hiring local people for the jobs within the guidelines of the Ohio Revised Code.
CUFA continues to win on issue we care about by bringing real people into the decision-making process. Chip in here to keep our sewer bills low and our water safe to drink. Visit our Facebook page to see more pictures of the event. Check out this video of the meeting.
Together, we can make a difference!
Mark your calendars: Meeting with the Commissioners October 27th
“Worker Bees” Cheer to Raise Money for CUFA
Close to twenty CUFA leaders, family, friends and supporters gathered last Saturday, October 11th at the Queen Bee Half Marathon to volunteer and cheer on the swarm of runners. As a charity partner, CUFA received a donation for providing a team to help at the event. After some coffee & donuts, everyone had fun shouting encouragements to the runners reaching the last stretch of the course. Thank you to all who participated!! Buzz, buzz.
Mark your calendars: We had so much fun at the Queen Bee that we're planning to volunteer again at the Flying Pig Marathon on May 3, 2015. See you there!
Volunteer for CUFA at the Queen Bee Half Marathon
CUFA is "buzz"-ing!
Join us at the Queen Bee Half Marathon on Saturday, October 11th and cheer on the runners while earning money for CUFA. We'll receive $400 just for bringing a team to help with the race! Yes, it's that easy!
We will have a team of volunteers- our "worker bees"- that will be located together along the race route. Our job will be to keep the runners on course and to cheer them on. Volunteers must be 14 and older. You can even bring a chair to rest your little wings during your shift between 7:30am-12pm.
CUFA President Marilyn Evans interviewed about CUFA's environmental organizing
Earlier this month, the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change released a resource that includes an interview with CUFA's very own President, Marilyn Evans. The Prezi presentation, "From St. Francis to Pope Francis to YOU! Creating a Climate for Solidarity" is available here. Or, click here to skip straight to what Marilyn had to say about CUFA's work to address the environmental challenges in Cincinnati. Together we can make a difference! Donate now!
Make history with CUFA: Donate to our first EVER annual campaign!
CUFA has been busy the past couple of months training new leaders, meeting with influential politicians and knocking on doors in inspire more people to take action
We've trained over 80 Cincinnati residents on how to use the Vacant Foreclosed Property Ordinance in their community to clean up vacant buildings and hold owners accountable.
We've met with Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune as well as Congressman Steve Chabot to discuss solutions to our skyrocketing sewer bills and our flooding basements.
All this has been possible because of YOU, our members and donors.
Join us to make CUFA history in our first EVER annual campaign. Donate now and be a part of this important movement.
Join CUFA to hold MSD accountable: Strategy meeting August 11th
Stop watching your money go down the drain. Come to CUFA's next meeting about the Metropolitan Sewer District and plan our strategy.
To date CUFA has:
• Won a promise from Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune to work with us to develop a program to help low-income and elderly residents afford their bills
• Gotten a commitment from Mr. Portune to co-sponsor a public meeting with us in October to answer questions about where our money is going
Join CUFA to hold MSD accountable. Come to our strategy meeting:
Monday, August 11, 2014 @ 5:30pm
Golden Leaf Baptist Church (rear entrance)
5910 Argus Road, College Hill
CUFA works to stop high sewer bills and sewage overflows
CUFA members are concerned with high sewer bills and are worried about water and raw sewage in their basements.
The Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) is spending $3.2 billion on Project Groundwork. This project is designed to stop sewage overflows and clean up our rivers and streams. Hamilton County's sewer system is almost 100 years old, and it is not engineered to meet the needs of our increased population. The sewage overflows are in violation of the Clean Water Act.
When CUFA met with MSD on December 3, 2013 they told us that only 11 of the 159 combined sewage overflows have been fixed since Project Groundwork began in 2006.
Even though the problem still isn't fixed, our bills have increased 17% just in the last two years! Rates are expected to continue to rise.
Where is our money going? What progress is being made?
CUFA is moving forward with this issue. We want to know where our money is going and how our health is being protected. If you think enough is enough, sign our petition!! Or print your own petition for yourself and neighbors to sign.
CUFA Meets with US Congressman Steve Chabot
On June 3rd US Congressman Steve Chabot met at CUFA’s offices to discuss our concerns about foreclosures, high sewer bills and sewerage overflows.
On Tuesday, CUFA met with Representative Steve Chabot in South Cumminsville to present information about the issues that impact our lives. Local leaders addressed issues surrounding the Metropolitan Sewer District such as sewerage overflows in our basements and the resulting increasing sewer bills. We also brought up CUFA's local win with the Vacant Foreclosed Property Ordinance and the need to continue providing relief to homeowners in order to prevent foreclosures.
As a result of our meeting, Rep. Chabot committed to:
- Send a letter to Mel Watt, Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, supporting principal reduction in order to end the foreclosure crisis
- Include CUFA’s suggestions to hire local workers to clean up Hamilton County’s Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs)
Rep. Chabot is co-author of HR2707 which seeks to reduce the cost of cleaning up CSOs by implementing local solutions. We are glad to hear that his proposed legislation should bring down our sewer bills.
Thank you to all who attended or spoke! Check out more pictures from the meeting on our Facebook page.
Expansion of Vacant Foreclosed Property Plan to All 52 Neighborhoods
Victory for CUFA!
For over a year, CUFA’s has been pushing for the expansion of the Vacant Foreclosed Property Program from the 5 pilot neighborhoods to all 52 neighborhoods in the City of Cincinnati. On Wednesday, March 11th, city council finally approved the expansion and now YOUR neighborhood has the power to hold banks accountable for vacant foreclosed properties that they are neglecting!
Council member PG Sittenfeld stated that the program has registered 267 of the 293 confirmed vacant properties in the 5 targeted city neighborhoods and so far the program has generated $133,000 in fees, and $106,000 in fines. According to Sittenfeld, 88% of the homes in the pilot program have been improved or stabilized. Sittenfeld stated that this program is not only benefiting those communities, but the expansion could be a revenue generator for the city.
For more coverage on this expanded program, click on the news links below.
For information on how to hold banks accountable and report a neglected vacant property, follow the link below. The tool allows you to look up a property by neighborhood or individual address to see if it has been registered with the city. If it has been registered, you can report problems that violate the standards set by the ordinance and keep your neighborhood safe!
Insight from Xavier University Student Intern
Read insights on community organizing from Genevieve Hager,
a CUFA summer intern from Xavier University.
Viewing and doing the impossible.
My grandfather once told my mother, "if it's impossible, it will just take a little longer to accomplish."
I hold this quote close to my heart not only because it was my grandfather who said it, but also because it has allowed me to do many things I never imagined myself doing.
This summer I received the privilege to be a Summer Service Intern and to work with Communities United for Action (CUFA), a multi-issue, grassroots group that believes in the power of people to change communities positively. My job was primarily door-knocking. I'll be honest, I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I showed up in May, but I was excited to see what the summer would hold. I was blessed with twenty new friends, a new love for social justice, and a work experience that has entirely changed my future.
While door-knocking is not the dream job of many, (if anyone at all), it is a job that I grew to love. Every day I knocked upon the door of someone who was experiencing racism, classism, prejudice, discrimination, homelessness or poverty, and they were willing to share with me how those injustices were impacting their lives.
The knowledge that our culture has grown to accept the oppression of certain groups within our society is not something that can be erased from my memory. This piece of knowledge has stuck with me, and made me contemplate why I was given the privilege when there are others suffering.
When I learned this, I thought, along with may of the other interns, "what can we do now?" We ended many of our conversations with a negative conclusion, with no real solid solutions, and little hope for the future. As I learned through working with CUFA, community organizing is the way to enact structural changes within our society. The changes you see through this work are very different from ones you would see through direct services. This work leads to building a more sustainable future for ourselves, and right now, I belive that is what we need most.
Another lesson I had the unfortunate experience to learn is the statement that "alone, we are powerless..." The places in our society that power is really important and those who hold it can make a difference, one person will not make an impact. It is easy for young college students to boast and say, "I'm going to change the world", as I once did. However, there is often little college students can truly do, except continuously imagine a better future.
Now, let me finish that statement above, "alone, we are powerless, but together, we can change the world." It is not enough to act alone; we must work together to change this world for the better. When I reflect back on this summer I can see now that every intern thought on their first day that the job they would be doing was impossible. All of us felt as though we weren't qualified enough to do the work we had been chosen to do. We all felt as though we were being tossed into the ocean, me especially. Community organizing? What's that? Door knocking? How am I suppose to do that? What am I suppose to say? How can I not make this awkward? Time was my only solution. I just had to do it until I figured it out and we gradually settled into routines that helped us grow each week and do even better work.
I never thought that I would know how to or be good at door-knocking. It seemed impossible, but it just took time.
I never thought I would love community organizing as much as I do. I never thought that it would impact me so greatly. But is has, and I am grateful.
It may seem impossible that within our lifetimes we will see any great changes within our society. But if I've learned anything over the summer it's that changes through community organizing take a while. Some campaigns take years, but it is not impossible.
I'll leave you with a quote I stumbled upon this summer. While I've said that we are powerless alone, don't ever doubt your ability to be the initiator of change. Don't ever think that just because you are only one person it won't be any good. Every change starts with just one person, and every little bit counts.
"I always wondered why somebody didn't do something about that ... then I realized, I am somebody!" - Lily Tomlin
CUFA Sponsored through the Charity Cincy Golf Ball Drop!
Buy a chance to win $10,000!! Support CUFA through the Cincy Charity Golf Ball Drop when Lucy the Pelican will drop 100,000 wiffle balls onto the UC Nippert Stadium! Five dollars can enter you to win $10,000 and a chance to win the grand prize of $1 million! CUFA's goal is to raise $6,000 and we need your help! When purchasing online, please choose our partner organization, Working in Neighborhoods as your existing team. CUFA will receive all $5.00 donated.
Visit http://golfballdrop.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.team&teamID=5010 and donate now!