Toledo Urban FCU Launches Programs to Fight Housing Disparities

By Dawn Scotland
The Truth Reporter

The Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union has launched two new programs: a down payment assistance program for homebuyers and low interest loan program for home repair contractors. The two programs are in collaboration with the Fair Housing Center and are open to the community with the goal of combatting housing disparities.

In 2008, The Fair Housing Center initiated legal proceeding against Fannie Mae, The Federal National Mortgage Association, Arguing that, during the housing crisis, Fannie Mae had maintained and marketed its foreclosed homes in predominantly white neighborhoods, while leaving black-owned homes in disrepair.

In 2022, Toledo’s Fair Housing Center secured about $755,000 out of a total $53 million settlement with Fannie Mae. Since then, the agency has funded a number of programs in the area to address those areas most hit. Now the center is funding the two new programs at TUFCU.

The down payment assistance program provides applicants of low to moderate income, that are eligible and approved for a mortgage, the ability to receive up to $5000 in assistance for the down payment of their first home. This is a grant provided by the program – those who receive the grant do not need to pay the money back.

“The way the economy is going [people] really don’t have a lot of extra dollars to put up. This is a way to offset that cost that you would be having to try to save up,” said Suzette Cowell, CEO and founder of Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union. The hope is to capture as many people as possible who need assistance in home buying.

The low interest loan program for home repair contractors provides business owners with needed capital to complete home repair projects. “It allows contractors to get dollars to pay for the upfront cost of [home repair projects],” stated Cowell. Businesses and contractors must meet eligibility requirements.  To apply or learn more about these programs call Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union at 419-255-8876 and speak with Jamezz or Warren.

Last month, the Black-owned Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union opened its doors to its second location at the former Fifth Third Bank on Monroe Street. The credit union, which has been in existence since 1996, services the predominantly Black central city neighborhood and has been in operation for 28 years, servicing thousands.  This feat is momentous in America where there are, in total, only 32 black owned financial institutions in the country. In the state of Ohio, the only other black owned bank is in Columbus, OH. (source:

“[The new location] is doing very well,” said Cowell. “We have people coming in and joining and happy for what they are seeing.” The second  branch will expand the work that the credit union is already doing in their ongoing service to the Black community.

Founding the credit union did not come without struggles and opposition.

“We work so hard to make sure Toledo Urban survives,” reflected Cowell.  In 1992, the credit union in its planning stages held a meeting with its potential supporters and stakeholders at Friendship Baptist Church. One white gentleman offered his disapproval “He said to us that our community did not deserve this because what we normally do ends up in somebody’s basement.”

“That was the mentality back then. That’s why our board has been in place for so long, that’s why the bankers are still with us—because most of us were at that very first meeting.”

“I think we’ve changed the community and we’ve changed the mindset. You got to respect us…we worked together and stuck together,” adds Cowell. That’s the way they were talked about and 32 years later they’re proving him wrong.

To learn more about the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union call 419-255-8876, visit their website or Facebook Page.