Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Solution to vacant homes? Form a task force, of course!

According to today's paper, Toledo is coping with all the vacant houses, but we're at a tipping point. To emphasize the fact, they've named their study, to be released later this week,"Toledo at the Tipping Point."

And what good would any study be without a dire prediction? This one says Toledo has moderate levels of abandonment and vacancy when compared with other cities, but warns "powerful market forces could bring on a vacant property crisis."

It also says, "without aggressive action and political commitment, the number of vacant properties could quickly increase beyond the reach of local programs."

So what is the solution to this horrible problem that is decimating our neighborhoods? Why, a task force, of course!

(We have no idea what to do, nothing we want to try will work, but let's for a group that will make it look like we're doing something. Task force is just easier to say.)

The paper says "the study's main recommendation is the creation of a task force of high-level city, county, community, and business leaders meeting regularly to deal specifically with the vacancy issue."

Unlike our daily newspaper, I didn't get an advance copy of the study, but as soon as it's released, I will see if it offers a solution to the symptoms or actually addresses the cause of the disease.

Foreclosures and abandoned homes are just the symptom of the bigger economic conditions in Toledo. They are not the problem. The problem is that the area is not business-friendly, has high taxes and regulations, has high government spending despite declining revenues, discourages economic growth, spends limited resources on amenities while letting the necessities go without, and has elected officials who'd rather have their name in the paper than actually do something that's in the best interest of the city as a whole.

Add in union contracts that have the public paying both the employer and employee portion of pensions, union contracts that routinely get higher wage increases than the public paying the wages, and no - or very little - payroll deductions for health insurance and you begin to understand why government costs are so high.

We cannot forget the reputation (deserved or not, perception or not) of being a strong union town that makes it difficult for business owners to make a profit - not to mention the reputation of the local daily paper for dictating the will of their publisher. When you take all these things together, it's no wonder that businesses and people are leaving the area, leading to fewer jobs for those left and vacant homes that can't be sold.

The solution to this problem is to change our ways - not create a task force to better deal with one of the symptoms. All the task force will be able to accomplish is a reaction to the symptom. The real solution is much more complicated - but that's probably why everyone will get so excited over a task force. It's much easier to sound like you're doing something - than to actually address the underlying causes.


Hooda Thunkit said...


To be fair I must point out that a sufficiently large task farce, occupying an appropriate number of properties in distress, could temporarily make the housing (non)crisis look better.

That is until they tax us to pay their overhead; and over their heads is exactly where the problem arises...

Tim Higgins said...


The very solution proposed here highlights my own plans. I am proposing to do a study on government studies. Like most such useless, nonsensical endeavors, I plan on providing no real solutions, but will at least attempt to list the problems. Such a study will produce the additional benefit of providing a higher standard of living for those involved in the study ... me.

Isn't this the real goal of such endeavors?

Carol said...


This whole issue is not (truly) about abandoned/vacant/foreclosed homes. It is merely a way to sidestep addressing the lack of jobs, lack of economic development, the inappropriate (damned near criminal!) influence that The Blade and JR Block have on Toledo's politicians, and the historically arrogant city government that thinks a warm fuzzy is what cures the problem.

Until this city is prepared to sink the ship and all the false captains to the bottom of the sea there can be no "cure" or real solution to these problems.

The politics of this city will not allow a "cure." If they "cured" it, then they would have to look again for another feel good moment to gain some camera time.

If Toledo really wants to address these issues .... then perhaps they should:
1) HELP businesses get set up by being more cooperative and flexible.
2) Do away with the "good old boy" network and let free markets work their natural course.
3) Keep the politics OUT of homes and schools. Be a helper, not an obstacle.
4) Have an open mind. Embrace change instead of fighting it.
5) Negotiate firmly with the unions and quit using my measly wages to pay for their health care! I don't make squat now - and I'm tired of the unions and the city taking more and more.
6) Pull their collective heads out of their behinds. See the situation for what it is and quit covering it with sugar and sprinkles. Face it. Head on.
7) We need help. As a city. ASK for it. Quit being so damned egotistical!
8) QUIT bowing to the CDCs. They are funded by US. They should work for US. Not against us.
9) Realize that others have sound ideas for improving this city - and put your ego in check. You're not God!
10) Substance is what Toledo needs - NOT fluff. If you can't deliver, then don't promise. Honesty is a real treasure - and we (the employers) deserve it from our employees (the politicians).

>>>OK - I'm off my soapbox now. :)

skeeter1107 said...

Let's not forget the "Land Contract" legislation that has taken a group of investors of distressed properties out of the mix. For the most distressed and needy properties, it's now cheaper to simply just abandon them instead of letting someone else buy them and fix them up. Thanks guys...thank you all very much for that legislation.

As far as the task force goes....just for grins, what if they actually came up with obvious answers? Is it realistic to believe that the politicians would actually implement the findings which would effectively reverse all the impediments they had previously created? Not likely.

But rest assured dear citizens. I'm quite sure it will be an impressively bound report, will be presented at a news conference where all the important people will be standing there with very serious and thoughtful looks on their face. Carty will speak in his really slow condescending tone so that us know nothings will be able to understand and appreciate the gravitas of the report.

Black Swamp Road Geek said...

Quote from our movers in Fort Wayne

We have just completed a move here to Fort Wayne from Sylvania and I thought I would share a quote that my wife heard from a mover that was helping clean out the apartment that I used the last year in Fort Wayne while selling our home in Sylvania. This came from the mover after my wife mentioned we were from the Toledo area.

“We move a lot of people out of the Toledo area”

Robin said...

One solution to vacant homes is better paying jobs, in this area. Stronger schools, youth activities, and law enforcement would help, too.

Maggie Thurber said...

Wow, Robin, and you didn't even need a study to come to that conclusion! LOL!

Robin said...

Some things just rise to the surface.

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