Toledo building and code enforcement inspectors have fanned out in a targeted area of East Toledo to evaluate property maintenance and code enforcements as part of the city’s annual “spring sweeps.”
Chris Zervos, director of inspections for the city of Toledo, told residents at the East Toledo Family Center on April 3 that inspections of properties are taking place in a targeted area that covers most of East Toledo.
“The inspectors have all been allocated in a general area of East Toledo, from Oakdale, Front, Miami, Dearborn and East Broadway. Our inspectors will make an assessment of the outside of the home, and will work from a modified assessment list of inspection items, such as the condition of the roof, windows, siding, foundation, porch, and the grounds. They will determine whether the homes meet the city’s minimum habitability and property maintenance codes.”
The assessment will conclude with a yellow tag issued to property owners.
If the property is in good shape, the yellow tag will state that the property was found to be in substantial compliance with the city’s property maintenance codes, said Zervos. The tag also thanks “responsible property owners and for maintaining your home or business. Your efforts stabilize your neighborhood, help strengthen property values, and reduce crime.”
If the property is not found to be in substantial compliance with the city’s property maintenance codes, a letter will be mailed regarding the infractions.
“In each case, those door tags can be redeemed at a retailer of home improvement products for a discount,” said Zervos.
Spring sweeps started on March 27 with inspectors going door to door in East Toledo. Further inspections are planned in the United North, Broadway Corridor and Overland Park neighborhoods.
“The whole focus of spring sweeps is home improvement,” said Zervos. “An improved neighborhood is a strong neighborhood, and a strong neighborhood is a strong city.”
Code enforcement officers are also identifying vacant homes during inspections, said Zervos.
“We know vacant homes lead to blight. Vacant homes lead to crime. They deteriorate neighborhoods, lower property values and make the quality of life miserable. You don’t want that,” said Zervos.
“We all know life has changed,” he added. “We all grew up with families owning a home, taking care of the home, being part of the neighborhood. But things have changed. There are people with different mindsets out there. Drugs entered our culture. Don’t give up. Push back. If you have a complaint, if there’s a nuisance property on your block, you can always call Toledo’s `Call City Hall’ at 936-2020, and that will get the problem directed to us or the appropriate person.”
The establishment of block watches, he said, strengthens neighborhoods.
“If you don’t have a block watch in your neighborhood, please form one. It’s through unity you have strength. If you don’t have that group organization, you’re out of luck. You’re not going to be heard as strongly as you’re going to be heard as a group,” he said.
Property owners may be eligible for financial assistance in making improvements, according to Zervos. Assistance programs are available at the city’s department of neighborhoods at 419-245-1400; Maumee Valley Habitat for Humanity at 419-382-1964; and the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority at 419-720-1102.
The Department of Neighborhoods, available by calling 419-245-1400, also has an Owner Occupied Rehab loan/grant program designed to fix code violations only, such as leaky roofs, faulty furnaces, crumbling foundations, and possible lead issues. It is not a home remodeling program. The amount of the loan/grant varies per project based on equity in a property and the extent of repairs. City residents at or below 80 percent of the area median income are eligible.
On Saturday, April 27 from 8:45 a.m.-noon, residents can participate in a neighborhood cleanup effort by meeting at the East Toledo Family Center, 1020 Varland Ave. Gloves, bags and vests will be provided, as well as Dumpsters for recyclables and garbage. Also on April 27, from 9 a.m.-noon, Dumpsters for recyclables for garbage will be provided at the East Toledo Family Center.
The City’s Division of Environmental Services, available by calling 419-936-3015, will collect hazardous materials listed on the back of the yellow door tag.
Tires and electronics can be taken to the Toledo Zoo on April 20 for Keep Toledo/Lucas County Beautiful Party for the Planet.
For all East Toledo neighborhood services, contact NeighborWorks at 419-691-2900.