Anna Louise Inn

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The Anna Louise Inn is a historic building in downtown Cincinnati housing a women's shelter with over 100 years of service providing low-cost housing and health services to women, including those leaving abusive relationships or prostitution, recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, or transitioning out of foster care. It is currently operated by Cincinnati Union Bethel (CUB), a charitable group founded in 1830.[1] It is a contributing building to the Lytle Park Historic District.

History[edit]

The Anna Louise Inn was established in the spring of 1909, as a home for working young women. The Charles P. Taft family were the principal benefactors of the institution, which stood across the street from their home (now the Taft Museum of Art).[2] They named the Anna Louise Inn after their daughter.

Western & Southern Purchase[edit]

In May 2013, Western & Southern Financial Group signed a deal with Cincinnati Union Bethel (CUB) to purchase the Anna Louise Inn. This culminated four years of contentious and public debate related to the corporation, the Inn, and the city of Cincinnati itself.

Criticism[edit]

CUB had attempted to sell the property to Western & Southern in 2009. The firm offered $1.8 million, less than half its appraised value, pointing to the economic conditions at the time, noting that the collapse of the United States housing bubble had slashed real estate values throughout the city and the region.[3]

CUB turned down the offer. It was subsequently sued by the company, which cited zoning issues and gender discrimination violations, the latter related to a $12.6 million HUD grant that CUB had sought for a renovation project.[4] After a protracted legal battle, CUB said that it lacked the funds to continue the fight and finally agreed to sell the property for $4 million.[5] As part of the agreement, the residents of the Inn were to remain until a new building is finished two miles north in the Mt. Auburn neighborhood.[5]

According to an anonymous source referenced by the Associated Press, Western & Southern CEO John Barrett had referred to the Inn's residents as recovering prostitutes and stated that they didn't belong in the neighborhood.[6] Some in the Cincinnati community labeled Barrett's efforts to acquire the Anna Louise Inn as an archetypal example of corporate greed.[5]

The agreement was characterized by the company as a "win-win".,[5] but critics labeled the company's tactics as insensitive and greedy; at the conclusion of the negotiation Barrett said he believes "nobody will remember" the fight between Western & Southern and the Anna Louise Inn.[7]

In addition to the protracted legal fight and numerous rallies and protests against Western & Southern, women living at the Inn filed a federal lawsuit alleging Western & Southern violated the federal Fair Housing Act. It accused Western & Southern of vilifying residents, photographing them without their permission and accusing residents of engaging in unsubstantiated criminal activity and other inappropriate behavior in the neighborhood.[3] This suit was dropped in May 2013.

In support of the Anna Louise Inn, a video was made by an organization, Cincinnati Faith and Justice, parodying Western & Southern's attacks on the Inn.[3]

Praise[edit]

Some in the Cincinnati community praised the agreement between Western & Southern and CUB. The Cincinnati Enquirer said that all three parties benefited from the deal: CUB, the company, and the city of Cincinnati.[8]

Steve MacConnell, president of CUB, said that “We wanted to protect affordable housing in Cincinnati, and we’ve done that,” noting that the deal would allow the Inn to house "administrative offices and 85 rooms that are larger than those at the current location."[8]

Robin Howard, one of the residents of the Inn, said she was pleased with the agreement: “I think after we talked, everybody felt good. We like the idea of a fresh start.”[8]

Vice Mayor of Cincinnati Roxanne Qualls, a long-time CUB supporter, said the settlement paved the way for “top-notch” housing for low-income women and would also allow "revitalizing the Lytle Park neighborhood."[8]

Barrett, the company's CEO, said that "The (University of Cincinnati) study we did showed that it could generate $400 million of economic value [for the city] over 30 years."[9]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°06′04″N 84°30′12″W / 39.101121°N 84.503395°W / 39.101121; -84.503395