I wish our new mayor could spend time with Terry Glazer. In an era in which talk is cheap and sometimes action never comes, Mr. Glazer is a practical visionary who gets it done.
Mr. Glazer is a lifelong community organizer. His chosen vehicle is the CDC — the community development corporation. He believes it is the best mechanism for attacking urban poverty and neighborhood disintegration. He runs United North, the result of a 2006 merger of Lagrange Development Corp. and NorthRiver Development Corp. The organization serves about 30,000 people in North Toledo.
And what does it do?
What does it not do?
United North engages in new home construction; renovation of existing homes; down payment aid; exterior home repair; and managing affordable rental units. It has built a senior living community: Crane’s Landing.
United North saved and has partially restored the Ohio Theatre on Lagrange and is managing that theater, where you can hear chamber music, world music, or jazz on given nights.
It keeps the Polish Festival going; it runs a teen pregnancy prevention program; it is a moving force behind the “Toledo Choose Local,” small-business movement. Now Mr. Glazer and his staff are taking aim at the Vistula historic district. It seems every time that district is about to take off, the economy collapses.
Mr. Glazer is not a lone superhero. He has a staff and the United North team works as a team. And yet, together, they are superhuman.
United North employs two smart management strategies: It runs its own rental properties, rather than turning them over to management companies. That means there is follow-through and human buy-in and partnership. These rentals are kept up. Conversely, when a project is ready to fly on its own, United North backs away.
United North has just been named Ohio CDC of the Year.
I’d like to see the city of Toledo deepen its partnership with United North, rather than investing less in it, as has been the recent trend.
Very few CDCs are run as well as United North. Indeed, CDCs have been disappearing from the Toledo landscape, but this one is a gem.
“Neighborhoods” was the theme of the recent mayoral campaign.
What do we mean by helping neighborhoods? Well, on an immediate level, it means we respond to the needs of the moment, like a community or a church would if it could. But on a continuing basis, it means improving and maintaining the housing stock. On both levels, United North walks the walk.
Big picture? We also need an infusion of homeowners, not renters, with money and jobs. We need to get cops, firemen, and teachers with disposable income moving back into Toledo.
That’s a subject for another day. Today, I praise Terry Glazer and his team. City government should support what works.
Keith C. Burris is a columnist for The Blade.
Contact him at: email@example.com or 419-724-6266.