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Published: Tuesday, 4/8/2014 - Updated: 7 months ago

TOLEDO FAIR HOUSING CENTER

Local groups join to use $1.4M from Wells Fargo Bank

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo Fair Housing Center is to announce today a partnership with Lucas County Land Bank and the Ability Center of Greater Toledo to use the $1.4 million settlement the agency received in a multicity discrimination complaint against Wells Fargo Bank.

Under the conciliation agreement announced last June, Wells Fargo agreed to commit $27 million to the National Fair Housing Alliance and 13 of its affiliates, including the Toledo Fair Housing Center, to promote home ownership, neighborhood stabilization, property renovations, and housing development in minority neighborhoods.

The agreement resolved a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban complaint filed in 2012 that accused the financial institution of engaging in a pattern of discrimination by not properly maintaining foreclosed homes in primarily black and Latino communities.

Michael Marsh, Fair Housing Center’s president and chief executive, said collaborations were made with the Land Bank and the Ability Center for programs to help stabilize and improve housing in selected Toledo neighborhoods with high minority populations and use those partnerships to leverage additional monies.

“This $1.4 million investment will have a substantial impact on the home ownership opportunities in our communities of color, where access to capital has always been a struggle. The Land Bank is leveraging our funds to attract additional funds to the program,” Mr. Marsh said.

“The intent was to have the biggest positive impact in terms of neighborhood stabilization.”

Lucas County Land Bank will receive $700,000 from the center and will match the grant with an additional $700,000 of its own money during the next two years to fund a roof replacement fund.

Qualifying home owners who need a new roof in one of nine targeted census tracts can apply and receive up to $10,000 to pay for the improvement.

Also, Fair Housing is giving $250,000 to the Land Bank for a program that will allow people who want to own and live in the same neighborhoods; they will be allowed to pay for repairs to dilapidated structures from funds managed by the Land Bank as long as they commit to owning them.

“The Land Bank is committed to strengthening all of our neighborhoods, but especially those neighborhoods in the core of our communities that face some real challenges,” said Wade Kapszukiewicz, chairman of the Land Bank board.

“Instead of demolishing structures we will be making significant investments in revitalization and renovation to save them. We are really investing in home ownership in these neighborhoods.”

The Ability Center, a nonprofit group based in Sylvania that assists people with disabilities, is to get $100,000 from Fair Housing’s share of the settlement to fund a home modification program.

Ash Lemons, the center’s housing and advocacy director, said the program will assist up to 40 people facing discharge from nursing facilities to pay for improvements and upgrades that will allow them to continue living in their homes.

The program pays for modifications such as handrails, grab bars, and wheelchair ramps.

So far, the homes of two people have been modified and the Ability Center has plans to help six additional people seeking accessibility modifications in their homes, Mr. Lemons said.

Mr. Marsh said the remaining $460,000 will fund the center’s emergency mortgage assistance work for owners in foreclosure.

The news conference to announce the partnerships will be at the residence of a North Toledo woman who kept her home through the grant program.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

markreiter@theblade.com

or 419-724-6199.



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