Could Habitat help with Toledo blighted homes? - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Could Habitat help with Toledo blighted homes?

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TOLEDO, Ohio -

The 13abc I-Team staying on top of its recent report on homes in the city of Toledo paid for with tax payer money and are now vacant.  Many of them have been demolished and now an empty piece of land.

Questions are now being raised about why these homes were not saved and rehabbed, instead of demolished.  Those questions raised Monday as the city is trying to figure out how to distribute Community Development Block Grant dollars, or CDBG.  Lots of groups from all over the city came to talk about their share, many asking for more.  One of the groups was the local Habitat for Humanity chapter and they were asked how they could help, if not this waste of tax payer money, but potentially the next.

The I-Team told you about these homes several months ago, built by a group called ONYX with tax payer money.  They went into foreclosure and feel into serious disrepair.  Many were demolished because of the cost to rehab them.  But as Toledo city councilman Jack Ford pushed at Monday's hearing, could Habitat have saved some of them? 

"A lot of the projects we're working on this year are in fact donations to us.  We've received 9 homes over the last 12 months that we'll do just that.  We accept them as donation and put the $40-$50,000 into them and through our home ownership program at the end of it we'll have a new home owner so we are doing that," said Michael McIntyre with Habitat for Humanity.

Ford has pushed hard for rehabbing, not demolition, and he says he's hearing others want that too.

"I have heard through sources that there are those in the Habitat family who think we are wasting opportunities by not allowing them to fix those homes up from the inside out," said Ford.

But officials with the City of Toledo Department of Neighborhood said that experts went through the homes and decided demolition would be cheaper than rehabbing.  Ford worried that's more of the easy way out, if the shell of the home is secure.

"But the reason you do that is because there's money to pay for that and there's an incentive.  People want to work on the dismantling of the house but it does not make rational sense," said Ford.   

Habitat officials also told Monday's committee that they have more properties than applicants for their home ownership program.  McIntyre saying they have a 2 year inventory of home right now to work on for future home owners.

The full Toledo city council will need to decide how exactly those CDBG dollars are to be dispersed.

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