Kennedy Heights is a neighborhood of about 5000 people located in the northeastern tip of Cincinnati. a middle class neighborhood, Kennedy Heights was one of the earliest integrated cincinnati neighborhoods. in the 50’s the neighborhood was mostly white, with a tiny black population. the neighborhood’s population began to rapidly increase around the time the West End was razed for the construction of I-75. displaced black Cincinnatians needed new homes and due to exclusionary mortgage lending practices by banks during this time, it was easier to find housing in already integrated neighborhoods like Kennedy Heights.
Kennedy Heights has an interesting history because as an integrated community, residents worked really hard to fight against segregation practices. in the 40’s-70’s, it was common for cities to try and turn integrated neighborhoods into slums through zoning practices and allowing waste producing industrial companies to move into these neighborhoods. One example of this is GM. after WW2, General Motors secured land in Kennedy Heights to build a new factory. the community worked together to create a political and PR firestorm that led to GM building the factory elsewhere.
another practice to promote housing segregation was blockbusting. whenever an all white neighborhood would start to integrate, realtors would try and scare white homeowners into selling their homes at low rates by playing upon fears that having black neighbors would bring down property values. neighborhoods like Avondale were hit by blockbusting really hard, but Kennedy Heights came together to try and slow white flight down by forming a community council to combat the issue. by focusing on creating training programs, bringing residents together, and fighting exclusionary zoning practices, the community was able to slow white flight down for a short period but not completely stop it from happening. one of the biggest encouragers for white flight in Cincinnati were the riots the city experienced in the 60’s, which i’ll talk about more when i visit Avondale.
today Kennedy Heights is a mostly black neighborhood, with the same rich and thriving community as it had back in the day.