March 2012 Toledo Free Press article that mentions Mosaic Ministries

(At the time, the church was called Western Avenue Ministries. These are excerpts from the TFP article because the media org and the website no longer exist.)

Mar 30, 2012 - Toledo Free Press - Churches, agencies partner to develop South Toledo

A kid, sunken into clothes at least three sizes too large, walked alone Saturday morning down an alley between two houses that leaned painfully toward the earth.

Just up the block, groups of volunteers holding clipboards canvassed his South Toledo neighborhood, logging to what extent gutters, paint, foundations, windows and other furnishings needed help.

Pastor David Kaiser, who runs the South Toledo Community Center at the New Kingdom Baptist Church on Broadway Street, estimates that at least 1,000 homes in this kid’s neighborhood lie vacant.

He said this particularly becomes a problem when you have a derelict house, like one on Crittenden Avenue, marked too dangerous for firefighters to enter if it catches fire sandwiched between two homes in which families live. Or when you have a little girl living in a house on Thomas Street surrounded by abandoned homes now frequented by drug peddlers and prostitutes.

Millions of federal, state and local dollars are available that could help repair the salvageable houses and demolish the goners. But organizers need hard data to bring those dollars here. The volunteers holding clipboards took the first step in that direction on March 24. Most of them were University of Toledo students, deployed by 1Matters, Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS)/NeighborWorks, the South Toledo Community Center and other players.

Kaiser and his Broadway Corridor Coalition, a group of churches, government agencies, individuals and ministries, seek to have one house built for every two taken down. Mann said demolition is going to be the priority for removing blight.

“We certainly have more houses than we need in the City of Toledo,” Mann said. “The reason we have a lot of abandoned houses is not just because of the housing crisis — we have a lot of folks who have moved from Toledo and moved out to the suburbs.”

Toledo enjoyed population growth from 1940 until 1970, reaching about 383,800. But by the 1980 census, population had declined to 354,635. The trend continued; 287,208 residents were recorded in the 2010 census. Just 10 years prior, the census had recorded 313,619.

So do all of these upcoming demolitions mean job opportunities?

That’s Kaiser’s goal. His church serves free breakfast a couple times a week. Starting at 8 a.m., prostitutes, ex-cons and pimps are among those gathering around hot trays full of bacon and eggs. They are tranquil and silent as they eat. Some share tables and others sit alone. They wear anything from dense cloaks to short shorts. Many of them sleep outside or in abandoned houses because they don’t have jobs.

The trouble is that many of them can’t get jobs. Their criminal records doom their job applications to the trash pile. Kaiser wants to find them work. He knows many of them have construction backgrounds. So he aims to either get these people hooked up with contractors or form a contracting organization that could be used for upcoming demolitions.

Kaiser told the attendees at his community meeting that he’s consciously not calling South Toledo the “South End” anymore.

Because this, he said, is not the end.