Lucas County officials have filed foreclosure proceedings over thousands of dollars owed in back taxes for more than 80 homes built by a Toledo community development group.
More than $132,000 in unpaid taxes and penalties are owed on the Toledo Homes I and II developments — 86 houses in the neighborhood east of downtown and south of Dorr Street.
City officials have said with the aid of the Lucas County Land Bank, they hope to bring the homes under new management when the foreclosure process concludes.
The houses, built by community development group Organized Neighbors Yielding eXcellence in the late 1990s, were highlighted in a recent 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. Among the most distressed developments are Toledo Homes I and II. About half of the homes are believed to be vacant.
The city has asked the Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority to take over the houses, said Linnie Willis, LMHA’s executive director. If the housing authority does take over the homes, the agency’s goal would be to have those tenants who are able to purchase their home do so, she said.
The homes were built as part of a program in which the tenant would rent the home for 15 years with the option to buy it at the end of that period.
“We want to stabilize the neighborhood by having home ownership,” Mrs. Willis said. She said it is not the agency’s goal to have the houses as part of its long-term portfolio of properties.
City officials have urged Toledo Homes tenants to stay in their houses and continue paying their rent as normal throughout the foreclosure process, which is done through the county.
“Nothing has changed [for me] at this point,” said Melodi Parker, a Toledo Homes tenant for about 14 years. Ms. Parker said she intends to stay in her home and hopes to own it soon.
Susan Fitzpatrick, another tenant who also intends to remain in her home, at least in the short term, said she believes many of her neighbors have begun paying their rent into escrow accounts because of dissatisfaction with Toledo Homes’ management.
Ms. Parker added, “I really hope that that community can be revived. I think it can do well with home ownership, as was the original intent of the program.”
WilliAnn Moore, board president of ONYX, said she had anticipated the foreclosure. Though ONYX doesn’t have the funds to pay all the taxes owed, she said she was hopeful a payment plan could have been worked out.
Ms. Moore also defended the tax-credit housing program.
“It did work,” she said. “The homes were built. People did have a chance to live in a decent home.”
Contact Kate Giammarise at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6091, or onTwitter @KateGiammarise.