By Tricia Hall
The Truth Reporter
Residents and supporters of Dorr Street Coalition met on Monday, March 28 to organize available public resources and prioritize community needs. The meeting was held at Jerusalem Baptist Church with an estimated 75-100 people in attendance.
Rev. Willie Perryman, pastor of Jerusalem Baptist Church, officially opened the meeting with a greeting and prayer. “We have Toledo’s finest in the house tonight, there are entrepreneurs, prayer warriors and leaders here tonight. We’re honored to host this townhall meeting,” Perryman said.
The gathering continued with Jay Rush singing an a cappella rendition of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” which was released in 1964 by RCA studio.
Immediately following the solo, Suzette Cowell, CEO and president of Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union (TUFCU), verbally shared with the attendees the purpose of the meeting. She noted that back in 2007 the community wanted the TUFCU new building to become a reality which in part would spark the revitalization of Dorr Street. “We built the credit union and now we’re connecting back with the community. We’re asking that everyone join this effort, we need everyone,” said Cowell.
The conversation shifted as elected and appointed officials and city employees shared available resources that could support the revitalization of Dorr Street. Sandy Spang, City of Toledo Commission of Business Services, explained the types of city grants and loans for businesses of all capacity sizes. Cindy Geronimo, City of Toledo Commission of Public Utilities, shared information about residential home lead inspections. Rosalyn Clemens, City of Toledo Director of Department of Housing and Community Development, talked about upcoming projects funded by the department. Paula Hicks-Hudson, state representative, and Gary Byers, president of the Lucas County Commissioners, shared words of encouragement and support.
“What a turn out tonight. It’s powerful when the community is behind a vision because that’s when change happens. My interest is bringing businesses back to Dorr Street and to support those businesses currently on Dorr Street. The city has initiatives that can bring resources to make the revitalization happen” shared Spang.
Clemens opening comments mentioned the completion of the city’s study about affordable housing and announced a roof repair program. “Affordable housing isn’t section 8 housing or public housing. We’re planning to complete 200 roofs this summer though a lottery system because when the roof goes, the rest of the house goes too,” shared Clemens.
Clemens also discussed the new federal HUD application that would front-load grant funding to minority and the disadvantaged. “We really want to partner with each of you on Dorr Street to revitalize this corridor. We have to work together through different committees. You have to work on it because it won’t happen overnight,” shared Clemens.
“I’m extremely excited about this coalition. It’s all about us, all of us, taking a stand. It’s not just about the neighborhood, or state house, or government center. There are different entities that have resources and commitments which require that the resources are provided to the community. It does take awhile to make things happen and we need to reimagine what Dorr Street will look like now and for our children in the future,” shared Hicks-Hudson.
For information about the City of Toledo’s business incentive programs which includes information about loans, incentives and tax credit programs, click the website (https://toledo.oh.gov/business/how-to-do-business-in-the-city/incentive-programs)
For information about the City of Toledo’s homeowners’ guide of available programs that provide information about mortgage assistance, home relief, emergency broadband, water bill assistance, basement flooding, lead remediation, home rehab, compliance code, and service providers, click the website (https://toledo.oh.gov/residents/homeowners)
Dorr Street Coalition was organized in 2007 by chief organizer and current facilitator, Suzette Cowell and several community leaders and organizations who are invested or located along Dorr Street.
An official kick-off meeting was held in mid-March 2022. Present at the meeting held at Jerusalem include key figures such as Pastors Willie Perryman of Jerusalem Baptist Church, Jerry Boose of Second Baptist Church and James Willis Sr of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, Robert Smith of African American Legacy Project, John Jones of Hope Toledo, Reggie Williams of Frederick Douglas Community Association.
The current coalition officers: Suzette Cowell, chair, Sonia Flunder-McNair, vice chair, Bishop Edward Cook, treasurer, and Rev. Jerry Boose, secretary.