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Former Toledo Mayor Jack Ford, who is now running for an at-large Toledo City Council seat, said today he would start a new non-profit organization to combat blight in the city.
“It's not really a new idea for Toledo – it's very similar to the NIFTI program that we had some years ago that went defunct because it ran out of money,” Mr. Ford said, referring to Neighborhood Improvement Foundation of Toledo, Inc.
Mr. Ford appeared with mayoral candidate Joe McNamara at his side during a news conference outside the Greenbelt Place Apartments.
“We need that. If you go around, particularly in the older neighborhoods up here in North Toledo you will find areas where there is severe illegal dumping, where even with the tear down of the homes through the land bank programs, we still have, essentially, charred neighborhoods,” Mr. Ford said.
He said the organization would be volunteer-driven and clean up neighborhoods.
Detroit has a similar program, Mr. Ford said.
The former mayor said he has asked Mr. McNamara to put together the new group whether he wins election or not.
Mr. Ford said he chose the Greenbelt Place Apartments to announce the plan because of problems at the housing complex.
Greenbelt Place residents complained last year to federal officials of unsafe and unsanitary conditions at the 806 Cherry St. complex that include bed bugs and cockroaches. They also cited missing fire extinguishers and accused management of demanding double payment of rent or deposits.
Mayor Mike Bell sent U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown a letter July 16 asking him to support Advocates for Basic Legal Equality’s request to terminate the housing assistance program subsidized by HUD at the apartment complex.
Mr. Ford said the city needs to be more proactive in dealing with deteriorating neighborhoods, rather than waiting for homes to crumble to then raze those houses.