City Council chose Blackstone over the people

On Monday, July 24, 2023, Columbus City Council voted 6-1 to approve the American Campus Communities / Blackstone development proposed at 50 West Lane Avenue.

Blackstone is the largest corporate landlord in history. They own thousands upon thousands of properties across the United States and abroad. They have earned international condemnation for their aggressive rent hikes and use of eviction as a profit-making scheme.

Now, City Council has given them a piece of our city–and are poised to sweeten the deal even further by handing over the public’s money in the form of tax abatements.

Despite so many community members testifying about Blackstone’s horrific human rights record and business practices–including its having been lambasted by the United Nations for its role in the global housing crisis–Council rolled out the red carpet to welcome them into our housing market. Even worse, Blackstone indicated that they intend to seek tax abatements for their trouble.

This is yet another example of Council weighing the business interest of a developer over the wellbeing of its constituents. It confirms our fear that Council’s purported “Housing for All” policies are a sham, meant only to placate voters while they continue to line corporations’ pockets with money lifted from our neighborhoods and schools.
For months, constituents flooded Columbus’s democratic channels with their fears over Blackstone coming into our city, providing written and spoken testimony at the University District Area Commission, the Development Commission, and finally, City Council. Of these bodies, only the Area Commission rejected the proposal, though City Council neglected to listen even to them.

Columbus DSA’s Housing Priority Campaign made it our responsibility to inform the public about Blackstone’s abysmal history and organize opportunities to speak out against them. We are so proud of the energy and tenacity the community supplied to our campaign. Columbus DSA will continue to oppose tax handouts for the rich so long as the working people of our city struggle to find housing that is affordable, dignified, and secure. We are sick of watching the working class get cut out of the deal. We are tired of seeing our schools gutted, our public services plundered, and our neighbors left to rot on the sidewalk. We are finished with the housing crisis being used as an excuse to build playgrounds for the wealthy instead of seeing our people safe. A bed for every person. A meal in every stomach. A city for every one of us. That is our future, and we are the ones to build it. Not Blackstone.

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