Toledo Councilman Jack Ford announced Tuesday he would investigate why federally funded houses in the city are being torn down instead of renovated into livable homes.
Mr. Ford said five such homes are scheduled to be razed this week.
“This week alone, that’s $800,000 of taxpayer money that was blown up,” Mr. Ford said during council’s regular meeting. “It’s just stupid. If I was a taxpayer, I would be very angry. ... We have wasted a lot of money.”
Additionally, Mayor D. Michael Collins warned council that the city’s share of federal Community Development Block Grant funding — the source for such homes and also for homeless shelter operations — would be cut again this year.
Many of the homes scheduled to be demolished were built by the now-defunct community development group Organized Neighbors Yielding eXcellence. Last year, Lucas County officials filed foreclosure proceedings over thousands of dollars owed in back taxes for more than 80 homes built between 1997 and 1999 by the group.
The houses were highlighted in a Blade investigation that found many of the homes had since been boarded up. The houses were built as part of a federal tax-credit program in which local developers can sell tax credits to investors, to raise funds for acquisition, rehabilitation, and construction. The Blade found vacant tax-credit properties blighting several city neighborhoods — boarded up, stripped of plumbing and wiring, or otherwise gutted or burned out.
Mr. Ford acknowledged that many of the homes had been stripped.
“In many cases, they didn’t have to be torn down,” he said.
David Mann, Lucas County Land Bank president, said 50 of the homes were salvageable and the nearly all of the remaining 30 have been razed.
In other business, council voted 11-1 to give $30,000 to the Toledo Community Recreation program. Mr. Ford voted no.
Mayor Collins said council approved $60,000 for the private group in 2013 but that only $30,00 was disbursed by the Bell administration. Of the remaining $30,000, about $7,500 was used for seasonal employees and interns last year.
The mayor said the city’s revised 2014 budget will be released on Friday. He promised an austere budget.