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City of Toledo, Lucas County and Lucas Metropolitan Housing launch first campaign in authority's 89-year history to recruit more landlords in effort to help solve Toledo's affordable housing crisis

The City of Toledo, Lucas County and Lucas Metropolitan Housing (LMH) today announced the kickoff of the "We Can't Do This Without You" education and awareness landlord recruitment campaign to address the city's unprecedented affordable housing crisis.

The aim of the campaign - which represents the first such effort in LMH's 89-year history - is to support LMH's current Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) landlords as well as to spur more participation by Lucas County landlords in the HCV Program. The HCV Program is designed to offer housing to low- and extremely low-income households in Greater Toledo.

Specifically, the aim is to add another 200 affordable housing units and at least 25 more new landlords to LMH's portfolio by March 2023. The LMH pilot project is supported with a $75,000 grant from the Lucas County Board of Commissioners.

LMH and its partners also announced today a new Landlord Incentive and Mitigation Program. The purpose is to offer landlords in Lucas County the security necessary to provide safe and affordable housing to applicants of LMH's subsidy program. LMH is offering landlords who lease new units with the HCV Program a sign-on bonus incentive of $500 as funds are available and the opportunity to receive monetary reimbursement of up to $1,000 as funds are available for move-out damage expenses beyond normal wear and tear. All funds will be disbursed by LMH on a first come, first-serve basis.
"Lucas Metropolitan Housing understands the important role that our landlords play to provide housing opportunities of choice," LMH President and CEO Joaquin Cintron Vega said during a press conference that preceded a free landlord symposium and boxed luncheon at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library McMaster Center, 325 N. Michigan St.

"We have established a successful HCV Program to connect with our landlords, but now more than ever before we need to better inform and engage all Lucas County landlords so they have a better understanding of our opportunities and the greater good that we want to achieve in partnership with them," Cintron Vega said.
"Building on our existing partnerships with landlords and enlisting new landlords to work with us will benefit them financially while opening more affordable housing opportunities across Greater Toledo."

The recent city-commissioned 10-year housing plan report found there is a shortage of 12,705 units for people with extremely low incomes. There are approximately 5,000 landlords in Lucas County, and LMH's objective is to grow its client-roster beyond the nearly 1,200 landlords who currently work with LMH'S HCV Program.

In addition to Lucas County, LMH's partners in the campaign include the City of Toledo; NeighborWorks Toledo Region, a nonprofit that develops and rehabilitates affordable housing; the nonprofit civil rights agencies Toledo Fair Housing Center and Toledo Lucas County Homelessness Board, along with additional agencies and nonprofit organizations that provide resources and financial supports to landlords and tenants leasing homes within Lucas County.

Cintron Vega was joined at the press conference by Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken, Toledo City Councilmember Nick Komives, City of Toledo Housing Commissioner Tiffanie McNair and Toledo Fair Housing Center Operations and Development Vice President Sena Mourad-Friedman.
"The affordable housing crisis is not unique to Lucas County - it's a problem throughout the entire nation," Commissioner Gerken said during the press event.

"Unfortunately, no 'magic wand' solution is imminent that will solve the crisis overnight in Lucas County, in Ohio and beyond," said Gerken. "Landlord incentivization is just one of the many innovative approaches community leaders are working toward to address the challenge."

The challenge, based on data from the city's 10-year housing plan, is that the average Toledo household earns just $39,000 - about 30% less than the state average, and about 40% less than the national average. An estimated 25% of Toledoans live in poverty, roughly twice as high as both the state and national averages.

The problem is most severe for Toledoans earning the least. Approximately one-third of households (38,575) in Toledo are cost-burdened, spending at least 30% of their income on housing. Of those households, half of them (19,350) are considered "severely cost-burdened," meaning they spend more than 50% of their income on housing.

"Cost-burdened households may be at risk for missed payments, foreclosure, eviction or inability to provide for other necessities such as food, clothing or transportation due to the amount of money spent on housing," said Councilmember Komives.

Additional benefits highlighted during today's landlord symposium that positively impact landlords who choose to partner with LMH include:
• Guaranteed payment of LMH's portion of rents.
• Free promotional listings of properties.
• Free inspections by LMH staff as required by federal regulations and assistance with property compliance.
• The new Landlord Portal that LMH has created to provide landlords with access to information including direct deposit statements, inspection schedules and results, abatement/payment hold details and annual reexamination dates for families.

The Housing Choice Voucher Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, assists very low-income families (one or more persons) to rent safe, decent and affordable housing owned by private owners in the Lucas County jurisdiction.

Qualifying families are responsible for finding their own housing and paying a portion of their income toward rent. The rental amount for housing secured by participating families must be comparable to that of similar unsubsidized housing units in the area of the complex. The family pays a minimum of 30% of their gross monthly adjusted income, as determined by the local housing authority, directly to the landlord. LMH sends a monthly payment directly to the landlord for the difference between the contract rent and the tenant rent portion.