Steven Greenhut is as careless with facts in his August “Letter From Lima: HUD Strikes Again” as he is in his colorful editorials about us in the Lima News. Nearly one-fourth of Lima’s population lives in poverty, and over 2,000 people have been on our waiting list for more than two years. So how could 28 new affordable housing units in a decaying economy add “insult to injury,” regardless of their architectural style? Yet Greenhut boasts, “I’m more concerned, however, about who lives inside the houses.” He poses as a hero courageously defending us against “welfare moms” and “arrogant” bureaucrats. Evidently he has not met any of the working families struggling to make ends meet on six-dollar per hour jobs or senior citizens and the disabled living on fixed incomes.

Clearly thinking he is an expert about our town after only a two-year residency in Lima, Greenhut inaccurately states that “scores of ranch houses” have been built. That was over ten years ago, and the number was two score and 16. The balance of public housing consists of existing housing that has been rehabilitated.

Greenhut also states that the “Section 8 program . . . has turned many stable, well-kept neighborhoods into enclaves of run-down rental housing.” This program only uses existing rental units that are kept up to code, and owner’s rents are based on the going fair-market rent. Moreover, the public housing that so incenses Greenhut is only one percent of Lima’s total housing stock.

Greenhut says that Lima residents “knew from past experience that MET houses brought a wave of crime, drugs, and lower-class culture onto their blocks.” As the landlord of those families in public housing, we are able to check credit, references, and criminal backgrounds, as well as visit their homes to determine housekeeping. On the other hand, units under control of private landlords may not be so vigilant in their screening.

Steven Greenhut developed his opinions about our agency when he discovered that a low-income family was moving into his neighborhood. We call this NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard). What do you call it?

        —Cynthia K. Ring
Executive Director, Allen Metropolitan Housing Authority
Lima, OH

Mr. Greenhut Replies:

It has been a tough few months for the Allen Metropolitan Housing Authority, so I won’t begrudge Executive Director Cynthia Ring for impugning my motives for criticizing her agency’s heavy-handed programs. First the Lima News blew the whistle on her stealthy attempts to foist another 28 public housing units on middle-class neighborhoods, then the City Council took AMHA to court for violating Ohio state law in the process. Her attempts to sic the feds on the city have backfired, and residents have publicized many horror stories about the agency and its charges.

Ring says my opposition to AMHA’s plan stems from my discovery that a low-income family was moving into mv neighborhood. Though untrue, this is a typical agency ploy, if you don’t see the wisdom of scattering housing projects around Lima, then you must be afraid of poor people, blacks, the disabled, etc.

None of the new houses are slated for my neighborhood (unless there’s some new plan Ring has yet to share with me), though I live much closer to them than Ring does; she lives in a rural hamlet far from her agency’s handiwork.

I may only have lived in Lima for two years, but I can see what Ring has a vested interest in ignoring: plopping public housing in solid neighborhoods, then dismissing complaints as examples of selfishness, is a recipe for the kind of turmoil AMHA IS facing.


—Steven Greenhut
Editorial page editor, Lima News
Lima, OH