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Published: Thursday, 9/16/2010

Toledo gets $3.5M in U.S. funds to fix, buy homes

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The city of Toledo's battle to stop foreclosed homes from causing neighborhood blight got a $3.5 million shot in the arm from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to purchase and renovate houses.

The grant money is part of the third round of funding for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and was allocated as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Jen Sorgenfrei, Mayor Mike Bell's spokesman, said.

Toledo's award was the third-highest allocation among Ohio cities and counties - higher than Cincinnati's $3.1 million award.

About 250 cities and counties nationwide received allocations in the third round of the program. Toledo's grant placed the city in the top 50 nationwide.

Ms. Sorgenfrei said the money will fight the blight caused by the foreclosure crisis. "The money will be used locally to acquire and rehabilitate foreclosed homes in order to make them salable once again," she said. "The funding can also be used to provide qualifying homebuyers with down-payment assistance."

Toledo has received $25.8 million since 2008 from HUD for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

In addition to acquiring and rehabilitating the houses and providing down-payment assistance, the funding has supplemented the demolition of qualifying properties "that have been identified as detractions to neighborhoods where new development may likely take place," she said.

Under the program, the city has acquired 52 homes for rehab and purchase. Of those, 12 were renovated and eight are occupied. Sixteen more are being renovated and 24 have been purchased, but work on those has not yet begun.

"We work with developers and they rehab the homes," Ms. Sorgenfrei said. "Most are foreclosures and they are in bad shape and that is why neighborhoods are becoming blighted. Neighborhoods like Library Village are strong but because of the downturn in the economy, there are more foreclosed homes."

Neighborhood Stabilization Program money can be used to provide up to 20 percent of a down payment for qualified families, she said. The city has razed an additional 183 vacant residential structures, 12 garages, and seven nonresidential structures with the program's money.



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