Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Toledo City Council votes to aid homeless shelters

Bell plan rejected in favor of restoring funds to 2012 levels

Editor's note: This version corrects an editing error relating to the monetary amounts. 


Tuesday's decision was reached by 10 city councilmen who, despite a veto threat by a member of Mayor Mike Bell's administration, went along with a plan offered by Mr. Bell's political rival, Councilman D. Michael Collins.

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Four Toledo homeless shelters that were in danger of having budget cuts thrust upon them had their Community Development Block Grant money restored to 2012 levels Tuesday by Toledo City Council.

The decision was reached by 10 city councilmen who, despite a veto threat by a member of Mayor Mike Bell's administration, went along with a plan offered by Mr. Bell's political rival, Councilman D. Michael Collins.

Council voted 10-1 to allocate $57,667 to Aurora House, 1035 N. Superior St.; $64,166 to Family House, 669 Indiana Ave.; $21,971 to St. Paul's Community Center, 230 13th St., and $10,611 to LaPosada, 435 Eastern Ave.

In so doing, it rejected a plan pushed by Mr. Bell. The mayor's plan also called for no money for St. Paul's and an $83,422 allocation for the Toledo Lucas County Homelessness Board to help clients with high-priced items such as rent and utility assistance. The council-approved plan directed $14,963 toward the homelessness board for that “direct financial assistance."

Councilman Adam Martinez cast the lone no vote. Councilman Tom Waniewski, who works part-time writing grants for St. Paul's Community Center, abstained.

Mr. Collins is one of several candidates who have entered the race for mayor against Mr. Bell.

Mr. Martinez said he voted against Mr. Collins’ plan because it does not provide the homeless- ness board with as much money as Mr. Bell’s plan.

The vote was the latest development in the saga that has pitted councilmen against Mr. Bell.

Deputy Mayor Paul Syring said before the vote a veto would be strongly considered. He also said council's action could jeopardize the city’s federal allocation for next year. Jen Sorgenfrei, the mayor’s spokesman, said after the meeting Mr. Bell would review his options.

A 10-1 vote is strong enough to keep the council plan intact. Nine votes are required for a veto.

Council had a veto-proof majority last month when it voted to change the mayor's first plan for allocating the money to shelters. That was vetoed by Mr. Bell and not overturned by council.

Renee Palacios, executive director of Family House, a family shelter in central Toledo, said she was grateful for the restored funding and implored the mayor to forgo a veto.

There have been multiple plans to divide the city’s share of CDBG money. A relatively small amount is dedicated to homeless shelter activities and “rapid re-housing” of homeless people.

Mayor Bell last week announced that the city would get $7,008,850 in CDBG funding — an increase from the $6,839,464 received in 2012. He followed that up with a plan to shift money to three homeless shelters. But the directors of two homeless facilities — Ms. Palacios and also Denise Fox of Aurora House, a shelter for homeless women and their children in North Toledo — quickly said the amounts he proposed still were below their shares of federal money last year.

The mayor’s latest plan was curious to some on council because he had previously — before he knew last week that the CDBG allocation would be greater than $7 million — suggested using $108,000 of general fund money to give the shelters what they had received last year in federal funding.

Councilman Mike Craig said the mayor could ask to direct some of that general fund money to the homelessness board if he wishes. Mr. Craig also dismissed Mr. Syring’s prediction that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would cut Toledo's 2013-14 funding because council approved its own plan Tuesday. Because the city received a larger CDBG allocation than was predicted, a revised spending plan is needed, Mr. Craig said.

Also under the recommendations sent to HUD in May, Family Outreach Community United Services Inc., 283 Ashland Ave., would get $77,282, and Harbor House, a shelter for homeless and chemically dependent women at 3322 Cherry St., would get $14,700.

In other business Tuesday, council approved accepting $850,000 from the Great Lakes Historical Society for the National Great Lakes Maritime Museum project planned for the city's east side Marina District.

The project includes a museum artifact display area inside the existing Skyway Marina Building, an information plaza, and an entry feature located at the Front Street entrance.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.

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