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Published: Monday, 3/4/2013

Tax-credit project turning tenants into homeowners

BY KATE GIAMMARISE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Danielle Peace, left, holds her son Sean, 4, as she and her son Kenny, 12, and daughter Kai, 18, right, pose for a photograph in their kitchen. Peace has lived in her home on Fulton Street in Toledo since 1998. She is hoping to purchase the home, where she lives with her four children, through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. Danielle Peace, left, holds her son Sean, 4, as she and her son Kenny, 12, and daughter Kai, 18, right, pose for a photograph in their kitchen. Peace has lived in her home on Fulton Street in Toledo since 1998. She is hoping to purchase the home, where she lives with her four children, through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program.
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Danielle Peace has lived in her modest house on Fulton Street since 1998.

“As a single mother, you want something to pass on to your kids,” she said, seated in her living room on a recent evening while she discussed her desire to own her own home soon. “That was always my goal.”

Ms. Peace is one of a group of residents who can take advantage of a program that allows families that might otherwise not be able to own a home to buy one. Her Fulton Street home was built as part of a federal tax-credit program to provide affordable housing. Local developers can sell tax credits to investors, such as banks, to raise funds for acquisition, rehabilitation, and construction. As part of the program, tenants rent the home for 15 years with the ultimate goal of becoming homeowners at the end of that period.

Ms. Peace’s home and others nearby were originally built by Toledo Olde Towne Community Organization, which since has disbanded. The homes were taken over by community group NeighborWorks Toledo Region several months ago. The 28 units include 16 single-family homes and duplexes as well as a 12-unit apartment building in an area between Collingwood Boulevard and Cherry Street, most on Fulton, Putnam, and Batavia streets.

A $200,000 loan from the Toledo office of the Local Initiatives Support Corp., a national nonprofit organization, will help repair some of the properties that had fallen into disrepair.

“The residents have taken real pride,” said Bill Farnsel, executive director of NeighborWorks Toledo. “... They’ve made improvements to the [properties].”

Danielle Peace has lived in her home on Fulton Street in Toledo since 1998. She is hoping to purchase the home, where she lives with her four children, through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. Danielle Peace has lived in her home on Fulton Street in Toledo since 1998. She is hoping to purchase the home, where she lives with her four children, through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program.
THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Ms. Peace said she is thrilled about the idea of home ownership. “I’m just looking forward to buying it,” she said.

Some tax-credit developments in Toledo have had problems with high vacancy rates or worse, with some homes boarded up, stripped of plumbing and wiring, or otherwise gutted or even burned out, as reported in a Blade investigation last year.

Other tax-credit projects across the city have ended up with ownership changes from their initial developers, through foreclosures or other means. The Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority is exploring taking over several developments built by the Toledo Community Development Corporation and Organized Neighbors Yielding eXcellence.

But officials say the situation with Ms. Peace and her neighbors’ homes show the developments can be successful, nurturing homeowners and strengthening neighborhoods.

“This is a case where low-income tax-credit housing will be beneficial for the community. This is how it’s supposed to work,” said Kathleen Kovacs, deputy director of Toledo’s Department of Neighborhoods.

“Anytime someone goes from being a renter to a homeowner, it’s a victory for everyone,” Mr. Farnsel said.

Contact Kate Giammarise at: kgiammarise@theblade.com or 419-724-6091, or on Twitter @KateGiammarise.



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