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After years of failing to find a permanent revenue source to support affordable housing for lower-income residents, the Toledo-Lucas County Housing Fund Inc. is merging with the Lucas County Land Bank to save money on administration, officials said Monday.
The housing fund’s main asset is the $150,000 it will receive annually through 2023 from the city of Toledo under a 2012 settlement over housing commitments.
The land bank and the housing fund are to describe the merger and its benefits at a news conference planned for 2 p.m. today.
David Mann, president of the land bank, said the housing fund normally spends $25,000 to $30,000 a year on administration through two contractors, Poggemeyer Design Group and Jarret Consulting Services. This year, the consultant was budgeted about $36,000, with $8,000 more for other overhead costs budgeted by the housing fund.
Mr. Mann said the land bank has the staff to administer the housing fund’s programs, allowing more money to be spent on “gap financing” for housing development and neighborhood stabilization projects through the county.
Linda Furney, president of the housing fund, said the organization was created in the late 1970s and was administered by the city of Toledo until it was spun off as a nonprofit during the term of Mayor Jack Ford.
The city and the housing fund reached a legal settlement in 2012 for the city to pay out of its Superior Street parking garage revenue a total of $1.8 million over 13 years to settle the housing fund’s longstanding claim that the city had made a commitment to fund housing.
Hugh Grefe, executive director of the Local Initiatives Support Corp. and a member of the housing fund board, said it is a disappointment that it was never able to secure a $1 million annual permanent funding stream. He said the money would be able to be spent with fewer restrictions than are attached to federal housing funds.
The housing fund board had hoped in 2008 that Lucas County commissioners would allocate to housing the revenue from an increase in the county’s conveyance fee from $3 to $4 for every $1,000 of real estate sold. But the commissioners voted to earmark the money to the county’s economic development agency instead.
A summary of the housing fund’s projects since 2002 identified a total of $1,054,811 in housing funds that were combined with other funding sources for a total of $7,810,875 in spending.
One project in the current round, for 2012-13, included $31,350 to the Ability Center of Greater Toledo to build ramps and other access and safety modifications for at least 25 homes of individuals with disabilities and limited household incomes. The report said 35 projects were completed at a total cost, counting other grants and loans, of $94,050.
Another project, completed by the nonprofit community development group Friendship New Vision, was “gap financing” to build two homes on Underwood Avenue in the Secor Gardens neighborhood. The total cost was $303,050, of which $100,007 came from the housing fund.
The housing fund’s third project was by Maumee Valley Habitat to rehabilitate four vacant homes, repair 11 homes, and repair/replace five roofs for low-income homeowners. The housing fund put up $57,418 of the $682,878 cost.
One of the the housing fund’s projects in previous years was the construction of the Dorr Street brownstone homes at 1630, 1636, and 1638 Dorr. The housing fund contributed $162,000 of the $810,000 total cost. Those homes are now owned by Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority.