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Toledo mayoral candidates address homelessness, racism at forums

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    From left: Wade Kapszukiewicz, Tom Waniewski, Paula Hicks-Hudson, who is listening to a question, and Opal Covey attend a Toledo Homeless & Affordable Housing Candidates Forum in the McMaster Center at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library in Toledo.

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    From left: Wade Kapszukiewicz, Tom Waniewski, Paula Hicks-Hudson, and Opal Covey.

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    Toledo's mayoral candidates speak at a Black Lives Matter forum.

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    People attend a Toledo Homeless & Affordable Housing Candidates Forum in the McMaster Center at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library in Toledo.

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  • CTY-FORUM06

    Former Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner listens to mayoral candidates answer questions during a Toledo Homeless & Affordable Housing Candidates Forum in the McMaster Center at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library in Toledo.

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  • CTY-FORUM06-4

    Toledo City Council candidate Nick Komives listens to mayoral candidates answer questions during a Toledo Homeless & Affordable Housing Candidates Forum in the McMaster Center at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library in Toledo. City council candidates followed the mayoral candidates.

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Toledo mayoral candidates promised city government responsiveness to the problem of youth homelessness and agreed to consider complaints about statues in honor of leaders who supported racist policies in two candidate forums Tuesday.

Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson and Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz said they’d support a resolution calling on landlords to accept federal vouchers and other public benefits as evidence of income for tenants.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz said, “None of us wants to put onerous burdens on landlords. The sort of payment you refer to, if it’s good enough for federal government it’s good enough for landlords.”

VIDEO: Mayoral candidates speak at homelessness forum

Ms. Hicks-Hudson said refusal to accept federal vouchers could be deemed a form of discrimination.

“The city of Toledo has a very strong history of making housing accessible to all folks,” she said.

RELATED: Tom Waniewski demands removal of advertisement

CANDIDATE PROFILES: Paula Hicks-Hudson | Tom Waniewski

Tom Waniewski, a Toledo councilman, said he would look to the market for a solution.

“We need to look at housing stock for low income, subsidized, permanent supportive housing,” Mr. Waniewski said.

Blade to host debate Thursday

Toledo’s mayoral candidates will face questions and each other in a debate sponsored by The Blade that will be streamed live from 2 to 3 p.m. Thursday.

The debate will be carried on Facebook Live and on toledoblade.com. It will be broadcast at 8 p.m. the same day on Buckeye Cable Community Channel 69, and rebroadcast over the following three days. The debate will also be available as video on demand after midnight Sept. 7.

Confirmed as participating are incumbent Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson and challengers Wade Kapszukiewicz and Tom Waniewski. The two top vote-getters on the Sept. 12 primary ballot will face off on Nov. 7.

The Blade is inviting questions from readers. They can be emailed to citydesk@theblade.com. On the same day as The Blade’s forum, the Press Club of Toledo is holding a mayoral forum at 5:30 p.m. in McMaster Auditorium at the Main Library downtown.

Opal Covey, a self-proclaimed “prophetess,” said she agreed with the answers given by the others, and said she’s been homeless twice and added the problem is rent “gouging” by landlords.

On the question of how the schools should deal with a high level of homeless youth, Mr. Waniewski said it is rooted in problems with the family structure, mental illness, and addiction.

“I would establish a board of educational connectivity, an association, not another level of bureaucracy, to work with the institutions that deal with students on all levels,” Mr. Waniewski said.

Ms. Hicks-Hudson said the city could do more by providing safe places for youth to go and called for better transportation to ensure that youth facing housing problems can continue to attend their home school.

“We have to address the underlying problems that cause youth to be homeless,” she said.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz said the issue of homelessness has to be addressed holistically.

“Nobody chooses to be homeless. There needs to be a way to help that individual find a home, not a shelter,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said.

Ms. Covey said the homeless need personal attention, and said churches should be more active.

“Get with them on a one-to-one basis and I assure you you’ll have a lot of homelessness cured,” she said.

The homelessness forum at the Toledo Main Library was co-sponsored by the Toledo-Lucas County Homelessness Board and Promise House Project.

In the Black Lives Matter Mayoral Forum sponsored by the Community Solidarity Response Network of Toledo at Frederick Douglass Community Center, all four candidates said they would assist an effort to re-examine statues of leaders who promoted racism. They all condemned the white supremacy movement.

Ms. Covey objected to taking down statues without government approval.

“That’s just pure vandalism on our statues and things that we have worked so hard for,” Ms. Covey said.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz said he would work with groups where there has been community consensus “to remove painful reminders of our history.” He said there should not be such reminders in civic centers and parks where families gather.

Mr. Waniewski said, “I’d have to see the statue in question. I would never want to put on a pedestal those icons that glorify anger and hate.”

Ms. Hicks-Hudson admonished against the danger of repeating history that has been forgotten. “While we don’t necessarily want to spend public dollars to maintain these images of past wrongs in our history, we need to find a place to put them so we never forget,” the mayor said.

Candidates for mayor are on the council primary ballot Sept. 12. The two with the highest votes will be on the Nov. 7 general election ballot.

Contact Tom Troy at tomtroy@theblade.com419-724-6058, or on Twitter @TomFTroy.

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