The Blade should be applauded for its recent series "Renewal to Blight," about the successes and setbacks of rental housing in Toledo. Even one boarded-up home, never mind 100, mars a neighborhood.
The series reported both disappointments and successes. It gives Toledo a chance to examine the benefits of a federal program that financed the homes the newspaper investigated, and how the program can best be employed locally to help poor families.
For nearly three decades, the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit has enabled families in Toledo and across America to live in affordable housing. This program is one of the most successful in our nation's history, helping to finance 90 percent of all affordable housing across the country in the past two decades.
Fewer than 1 percent of these homes have faced foreclosure. That's a far better track record than the rest of the housing market has posted in recent years.
We've also had a good track record in our community. In Toledo, five out of six rental homes built by this program and sponsored by community development corporations are in good shape and providing high-quality housing.
As for the homes that are boarded up, the city and local groups are committed to get them back on the market. These homes are in Toledo's most challenged areas, where financial stability is an everyday problem for residents. The ability of nonprofit groups to manage these projects is critical.
The Toledo office of the Local Initiatives Support Corp., a national nonprofit organization that shepherds millions of dollars into low-income neighborhoods across the country, has supported these developers. We provide a range of training and other technical assistance to help them tackle their difficult work.
At times, support from LISC and the City of Toledo has been ignored. It cannot be in the future -- and if it is, the community must be ready to react. LISC and our partners call on residents and local leaders to demand the highest standards of the community organizations they entrust with the important work of transforming their neighborhoods.
LISC's decades of community work tell us that development of safe and affordable housing addresses a fundamental human need. It provides a stable base for families to pursue their goals for education, employment, and a better overall quality of life.
For 22 years, we've been a conduit to channel resources into distressed communities in Toledo. Our approach, locally and across the country, is comprehensive. We collaborate with local nonprofit and government agencies, offering grants, capital, and expert advice.
Our priorities include expanding investment in housing, increasing family wealth and income, creating jobs, and providing better access to high-quality education and healthy environments. We are ambitious because we believe a comprehensive approach offers the best opportunity for change.
LISC will work closely with city government and other concerned and willing organizations to address housing troubles in our community. We will keep to our standards and remain committed for the long term.
The Blade's series is about affordable-housing development and management. The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit is a powerful and widely used financing tool. But like all other tools, the credit is only as valuable as the work done by those who use it.
Hugh Grefe is senior executive director of the Local Initiatives Support Corp. of Toledo.