Toledo City Council members question purchase of building for Unison Behavioral

Toledo City Council members question purchase of building for Unison Behavioral
Published: Jul. 20, 2023 at 10:50 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Questions are being asked about the city of Toledo’s aided process to buy a dilapidated building that will eventually be used for permanent housing for people with mental health issues.

The mission and goal aren’t the issues, it’s the process.

Members of the Toledo City Council made it clear, they support anything and everything to find people permanent housing. What they want to know is why the city supported buying a building for that and spending about $300,000 over its appraised value.

The Whitney Manor building on North Cove Boulevard and Monroe Street has seen better days. It has old-time charm but recent bumps and bruises. The current plan is for Unison Health to turn into long-term stable housing for people with mental health issues, part of their “housing first” project.

“We are completely supportive of every agency and what you do here. But there is a process that should have taken place and it did not,” Toledo city councilman John Hobbs said.

Some Toledo city council members have serious questions about how this project got its start. To purchase the building, Unison used $875,000 of Toledo grant money that came from the federal government. The building was appraised for just over $500,000.

Unison reps say it’ll take about a total of $5 million to renovate the building holding about 20 apartments.

“I believe that had this been discussed before council or been brought forth council would have had a lot of strong questions about what was getting ready to take place,” Hobbs said.

“It is within the work that we do and the framework that we have currently in place that we made the decision to do this project,” Rosalyn Clemens, the city of Toledo community said.

Council didn’t vote on this particular project, the administration picked it after the council approved the large bucket of money to work with. Unison does need to raise more money to complete work here but some renovations will begin in the fall.

“It doesn’t make sense to me at all for a building appraised at $580,000 to give $875,000 for it for which the city will be responsible for it in default and we don’t even own the front yard. Does that make sense to anybody sitting here?” Hobbs said.

Since the city was the pass-through for the federal grant if this doesn’t turn into housing in the next 4 years.

As for that front yard, a small piece in front of the building is owned by someone else who didn’t want to sell when Unison wanted the building.

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