Toledo mayoral candidate D. Michael Collins talks about Mayor Mike Bell's handling of homelessness during a news conference on the Civic Center Mall. Mr. Collins is running for mayor against Mayor Bell.
The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
Mayoral hopeful D. Michael Collins today said if elected he would restructure the agency that governs federally-funded homeless shelters in Toledo, as well as the city's neighborhoods department.
“Shelters are dealing with 1,500 to 3,000 people per year in need,” Mr. Collins said. “Yet, the provider community receives only 42 percent of money sent to Toledo by [the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.] The other 58 percent winds up funding positions in the Bell administration with the Toledo-Lucas County Homelessness Board.”
Mr. Collins said the city is no longer compassionate “to the plight of the unhoused.”
He blasted Mayor Mike Bell for slashing homeless shelter budgets the past two years; submitting spending plans to HUD without Toledo City Council approval, and last week asking the shelters to allow overcrowding with people sleeping on floors or cots.
“Under my administration there will be a complete change,” Mr. Collins said. “The department of neighborhoods will cease to exist under its present structure and we will have people in place and let this community know that we are a compassionate city.”
Officials with the Bell administration were not immediately available for comment.
Tom Bonnington, executive director of the Toledo Lucas County Homelessness Board – the quasi public-private agency that oversees area shelters – acknowledged last week that he had asked shelter directors to make more room and that he is aware of the backlogs.
The affected shelters are Family House, La Posada, St. Paul's Community Center, and Beach House.
Mr. Collins said he would work to restore a “no wrong door policy.” That would allow homeless people to arrive at any appropriate shelter and be helped. Currently, people needing a shelter must call the United Way of Greater Toledo's 211 to be placed.