Area Leaders Address Greenbelt Place Apartments Issues

Tina Butts, leader of the Movement, addresses press conference at Greenbelt Place

By Dawn Scotland
The Truth Reporter

Thursday morning, July 14, Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken and leader of The Movement Tina Butts, along with community leaders, held a press conference in front of Greenbelt Place Apartments to discuss the improvements of the once infamous apartment complex on Cherry Street.

For decades, the Greenbelt Apartments have been synonymous with neglect, crime and violence. This year, through a collaboration with local government, grassroots movement and the owner, that narrative is starting to change.

“The conditions [at Greenbelt] were deplorable, said Gerken. “There were doors off the hallways, in the winter the wind would blow through, rodents would come in, there was always the problems of infestation of mice and roaches. We’re trying to turn that around.”

Improvements have been seen in the past 10 months. “The grass is cut, the doors are on, blinds have been replaced, new refrigerators come in everyday, it’s clean and people are now coming out to be with each other rather than staying in and being afraid.”

“It’s not perfect, it’s only a start but we’re pretty proud of the start,” said Gerken.

Last October (2021), there was a meeting at the One Government Center where issues were raised regarding the conditions of the Greenbelt Apartments. Members of local and federal governments, as well as the Toledo Police Department and other organizations took owner Rene Campos to task. The Greenbelt had been deemed a public nuisance by the City and had failed its U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) inspections scoring 36 out of 100.

“That meeting started a process… this process is a national model that can get replicated, “said Gerken.

“We have been here every single day since that moment,” said Tina Butts leader of the grassroots organization The Movement. “Every Monday thru Friday we’re here 9-12 and 1- 4 pm.” The Movement is an onsite resource aiding residents with the help they need. “We have built a strong relationship with the owner(s) and whatever we say that’s needed –they make it happen.”

Thanks to this joint effort, residents have received rental assistance, new furniture and improvements to their apartments. There are now also new community services at Greenbelt including Pathway, Lucas County Children’s Services and Connecting Kids to Meals. Next week there will be a Job Fair for the residents at the complex –Thursday July 21 at 10 a.m.-2 p.m. with Job 1 USA.

Butts and the Movement encourage more community partners to get involved. “The people that have the resources in our community – get them in here!… We’re here!” charged Butts on Thursday.

Deshawn Hutchings has been a resident at Greenbelt for over 30 years and has seen the change. “The improvement here – excellent… we still have our problems… but families are starting to bring their kids back.”

She said parents had taken their kids away because of the violence. “It’s a blessing to see more kids being able to enjoy playing outside…. without your heart racing as soon as your child walks out the door.” Hutchings noted that previously she wouldn’t let her four-year-old goddaughter outside. She now lets her play at Greenbelt’s playground. “Now you can let your child out at peace.”

“We need people that want to live here to live here, we don’t want this to be a last resort for people’s residence… we want this to be a choice,” noted Gerken. There are opportunities for people to live in Greenbelt with more units being fixed.

On Thursday, Gerken, Greenbelt owner Rene Campos, The Movement and Greenbelt residents were there to applaud the progress.

“The owner can’t do this by himself remotely, he has to stayed engaged locally… the government can’t do this from the outside. You can’t have the county commissioners here going door to door – they don’t trust us. You have to find a community partner that’s well respected with results, as the Movement has {brought] that can create those kind of relationships,” said Gerken.

Gerken celebrated the work of the Movement and leader Tina Butts in Greenbelts Apartments during the press conference. “The reason this is a success today is because we reached out to the community. We couldn’t do this without the community. This is not the government’s work that you see… this is government and owner support.”

“We’re going to continue our fight, whether it’s in the Greenbelts, the other side of town, the east side…We’re here to stay, “commented Butts.

To join The Movement or become a community partner visit or call 419-450-3325.