North Toledo housing projects reinvigorate residentsWritten by John P. McCartney | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Although LoRece Morehead grew up on Franklin Street, near Downtown Toledo, her heart is in the North End. Two years after their September 1966 wedding, Morehead and her husband Robert Ingram, who had just returned from Vietnam, moved to Chase Street to set up their household. It was there that they raised their son and daughter, sending the children to the former Chase School, half a block away from their house.
Today, 45 years later, Morehead’s life has come full circle. Her new home is immediately across the street from her daughter’s house on Adrian Street inside of Cranes Landing, a 40-unit apartment complex for residents 55 and older built on the site of the elementary school her children once attended.
And Morehead is adamant that her two-bedroom, 884-square-foot apartment will be her home for the next 50 years “if God lets me live that long. I told my daughter already, ‘This is it. This is my last move. I’m not moving nowhere else. I’m tired of moving now.’ ”
Cranes Landing, 3315 Mayo St., is the most recent housing project of United North, a community development agency that promotes housing and business opportunities in the Olde North End (ONE) Village, more commonly known as North Toledo’s Polish Village. United North is the result of the 2009 merger of two former community development agencies — Lagrange Development and NorthRiver Development corporations.
As United North’s chief executive officer, Terry Glazer leads a 14-member administrative staff in overseeing the programs and services offered to ONE Village’s residents and businesses.
Glazer said the success of Cranes Landing, which was formally dedicated Feb. 27, will soon be followed up with another 55-and-older housing project that will see the renovation of the former St. Hedwig’s Elementary School, 225 Dexter St., off Lagrange St. just east of Cherry Street.
Roman Catholic Bishop Leonard P. Blair closed the school after the 2005 academic year and the parish church on Sept. 1. The school building is architecturally solid, Glazer said, and if the funding proposals are approved and United North is able to purchase the property, it will renovate the former school building into another 55-and-older apartment complex for less than the $7 million it took to build Cranes Landing.
Twenty percent of the 40-unit Cranes Landing had been leased when United North dedicated the building and held an open house Feb. 27. Two other residents who attended the open house were just as enthusiastic about their new apartments as Morehead.
Jacqueline Pearson, 55, and her mother, Rose Spears, 74, credit providence for their finding Cranes Landing.
“Actually, this place found us,” Pearson said. “By the grace of God, it just dropped in my hands. I had been struggling for almost 10 years after losing my grandmother, my mother’s husband and her sisters. So it’s been nothing but me, my mother and her brother.
“I’ve been the care provider, running between the both of them, and it was like just, a year and a half ago or so, I thought I was having a heart attack. And the doctor put me in the hospital and said, ‘You can’t do any more.’
“And I’m like, ‘I can’t stop. She has no other way.’ She’s my life. That’s my best friend. Whatever she wants, I’m going to do it. I gave up everything for her, everything to make her happy, to see her laugh every single day.”
Before the move to Cranes Landing, Pearson lived with and cared for her disabled mother in her mother’s home on Melody Lane. However, since her stepfather’s death six years ago, Pearson said she and Spears have faced financial hardships that were only getting worse with time.
“Living at home … shoveling the snow … paying somebody to maintain the grass. And we had a pool in the backyard. Tearing down trees … taking care of meds … and then trying to pay the utilities. It was not happening for us. It was not happening at all,” Pearson said. “And to own a house where you can’t pay the taxes on it. I found myself choosing between my mother’s life, meds and living.”
Spears was equally frustrated. Her sole source of income is Social Security, and she didn’t have enough income to pay her property taxes.
“I had problems keeping up with all the bills and things on Melody Lane,” Spears said. “I couldn’t pay the taxes. That’s what got me. I had to pay $1000 every six months. I didn’t have that kind of money.”
An affordable option
Affordability is one of the beauties of Cranes Landing, said Tiffanie McNair, Cranes Landing property/asset manager.
Apartments are leased following HUD (Housing and Urban Development) criteria. Applicants must earn less than 60 percent of the median gross income for all Lucas County residents to be approved as potential residents. For a family of four, that’s approximately $29,000 a year, to qualify McNair said. For a family of one, it’s about $25,000.
Once applicants meet the income eligibility requirements, they can sign the lease. A one-bedroom apartment (approximately 684 square feet) rents for $479. A two-bedroom apartment rents for $583. Prices are 60 percent of HUD’s affordable market rate. These are subsidized by LMHA.
‘A blessing from God’
Like Pearson, Morehead credits divine intervention for her new home.
“I call it a blessing from God,” Morehead, 65, said. “That’s all I can say. I’ve been blessed and I am still being blessed.”
Morehead said she is grateful for the open design of her apartment.
“I like it because it’s not congested and crowded,” Morehead said. “I know there’s other people that live here, but it’s still a lot of room. I like the convenience of there being a library here. I just wish they’d get some books up in there because I’m an avid reader.
“And the space. I like the space.
“I love just sitting here in the middle of the room in this one chair. My daughter wants to take me to get my furniture and other stuff, and I told her, ‘I’m in no hurry. I love this space.’
“I love my bedroom closet. I have a closet that I can walk into and my clothes are not screaming, ‘Get me out of here. I’m crowded.’ I’ve got plenty of room. My clothes are not squashed up. I just love it. And I like the walk-in shower. Just walk in to take a shower and walk out. It would be almost impossible to trip.”
“It’s terrific. I get up in the morning with a smile on my face and I go to bed with a smile on my face.”
‘I’m better off here’
Spears said she enjoys her new home because it has helped her regain some independence.
“I love the way this place is made,” Spears said. “My daughter’s on that end, and I’m on this end. So I feel free.
“And when she comes down here, I ask her, ‘What do you want?’” After a little laughter, Spears said, “And after she gets what she came for, I tell her, ‘OK. You can go home now.’”
The laughter flows more easily than it has in years, Spears admits.
“And she says, ‘Mama, you don’t never want me down here.’
“I say, ‘Not really.’ ”
And although it took Morehead almost five years to persuade her mother, Spears said giving up her home of 41 years was the right thing to do.
“I thank God that Jackie had me move,” Spears said. “I’m better off than I was in the house on Melody Lane.”