Akron DSA’s Response to 2021 State of the City

Mayor Horrigan held his annual State of the City address August 9, 2021. Though full of self-congratulations, one thing remains clear to us as an organization: the city is not adequately addressing the needs of the most vulnerable.

First, he discussed the use of CARES funding to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on the people of Akron. Of the funds set aside, much of it has yet to reach Akronites. The water shutoff moratorium ended on March 31, despite efforts from Councilman Malik to continue it. Water is an essential human right, especially in a pandemic when hygiene is an important part of preventing the spread of COVID. Despite Mayor Horrigan’s comment that we are in the “recovery phase”, the pandemic continues with no end in sight.

The mayor’s proposal to reinvest in existing housing and to build new housing sounds good, but is not addressing the needs of those being put out into the streets right now. Though there was a national eviction moratorium, this did not play out in the city of Akron; throughout the pandemic, Akron has continued to evict people at an average rate of two families per day for a total of 769 evictions since last April. Our city has the highest eviction rate in Ohio and rents are only increasing. While increasing home prices may be good for owners, it does nothing for tenants, which make up 48.4% of city residents. The highest eviction rates are in Akron’s historically redlined neighborhoods; this issue disproportionately affects our residents of color. Many in neighborhoods like Middlebury, Summit Lake, and South Akron are paying more than half of their monthly income on rent.

Mayor Horrigan also spoke about community reinvestment and policing. We recognize that the city is dealing with higher levels of crime at this time. While investment in youth centers is a step in the right direction, a majority of Horrigan’s so-called solutions reinforce violence and trauma in working class communities rather than prevent it. More policing and a “tough on crime” approach will not solve this. We need investment in our community that is real and tangible. Higher wages and guaranteed basic needs are proven ways to reduce crime and address the downstream effects of poverty. 

The extraordinary events of the last year have shown that the safety nets that should protect citizens are not doing their jobs. All Akronites need to be valued and supported because no one’s lives should be made worse by the institutions that are supposed to be here to assist us. The issues our community faces will not be solved with austerity and neoliberal policies that seek only to enrich the lives of the wealthy and exacerbate the struggle of the working class. 

Did Mayor Horrigan ignore the looming threat of climate change? Increased poverty and homelessness among working class citizens? The failure of our city government to actually provide material changes to the people? Yes. And these demands will continue to be ignored unless we return power to the people of Akron.

Akron Democratic Socialists of America

View all our statements here.

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