By Tricia Hall
The Truth Reporter
The Lucas County Commissioners, in partnership with The Movement, held a press conference at Greenbelt Place Apartments on April 13 to deliver a message to the community about recent events at the complex.
“We’re here to give the community an update, first and foremost, and to also celebrate the victories that have been achieved here. This is a national model of cooperation that we want our community to know about,” explained Pete Gerken, Lucas County commissioner.
“Let’s go back a few years, this place was a mess and had a reputation of the worse of the worst. The outside didn’t look good and the insides were worse. The residents were scared and had little hope and at some point the property owner, Rene, was close to losing designations with HUD, who helps to pay and subsidized the housing. We had a meeting at Congresswoman’s Marcy Kaptur’s office and everyone came together and realized that this was a crisis and had to bring the community together. This is one of the largest housing projects in the city and with respect to all the residents that live here, we had to do better,” said Gerken.
“There are other places in Toledo that aren’t owned by Rene, that don’t look as great at this place does today. There’s a lot of stuff going on in those places. I’m going to challenge those out-of-town landlords that have those places you need to step up and be like Rene and step up and be like Tina Butts. You have a responsibility in our neighborhoods to our residents,” said Lisa Sobecki, Lucas County commissioner.
Commissioner Gerken explained the collaboration and insisted that it could be replicated in other parts of the city and nation. The collaboration included the Council Commissioners, City of Toledo, The Movement Team and Greenbelt Place Apartments property owner.
“We have some very dedicated on-site staff, which has been a tremendous help. We appreciate Tina and The Movement, even though we initially got off to a rocky start. Fortunately, we had partnerships with Commissioner Gerken and The Movement. We are committed to putting forth our best efforts. We’re going to continue to do our best and we’re excited to see the continued improvements,” shared Rene Campos of Eureka, Greenbelt Place Apartments owner.
The Movement Team served as the linchpin and community organizer which connected residents to requested local services and programs. The Movement Team has worked with the residents and brought in Getting Ahead program, that aims to get people out of poverty. The program has enrolled and graduated two classes.
The Movement Team also brought in partners like Lucas County Children Services every Monday, they also brought in prenatal care, personal wellness and voter education program. The Movement connects residents to resources in real time instead of delivering a list of referrals, they assist to make the real-time connection.
“We saw some of the living conditions when we were signing people up for vaccinations, and we voiced our opinion then it snowballed. We had no idea who the owner was. We also didn’t know that the owner was told by employees that everything was okay. When we finally sat down and met, I learned that he had a heart of gold and wanted to do whatever it took to get things right. We have built a friendship. I agree with him because it was rocky at first, but he was willing to do whatever it took to make the living conditions for the people that live here a better place to live. I want to thank you for keeping your commitment to us, we couldn’t do this alone. We were able to break that wall because some people didn’t understand why were here,” shared Tina Butts, executive director of The Movement Team.
“I was a tenant and one of the people causing problems. I got connected with Ms. Tina and her program changed my life around. I’m truly blessed to have her in my life, she is my personal guardian angel who gave me a second chance at life. I stand here today sober, because I suffered from addiction. The addiction led me to do some bad things and I got involved with the wrong people. She believed in me and I thank her for that, coming up on three months sober. I encourage anyone who wants to get clean to get involved,” shared Terrance John, former tenant of Greenbelt Place Apartments and The Movement Team member.
Immediately following the press conference, attendees were invited to tour the property which had some recent updates. The updates included new playground equipment, renovated residential units and visible property maintenance. The property also passed the recent HUD inspection and plans to complete additional upgrades in the future.