During my early days as a councilman, one of my main aspirations was to spearhead a program to build new homes for 6th Ward low-income residents.
Everyone told me this wouldn’t work. They said that people in my ward could not afford new housing, they could not get financing for new homes, and they would not consistently pay their mortgages to make homeownership a reality.
Unable to find local support, I went to Columbus and sold the idea to a contractor who came to Lima and actualized my dream. New homes were built throughout the 6th Ward for low-income residents, and the neighborhoods thrived.
Then a crisis arose.
Two of these homes (Whittier Homes) were built according to strict specifications that mandated their sales by a particular date, or the city of Lima would have to pay for them. The economy grew progressively worse and so did real estate sales.
Of course, I did not relish the idea of naysayers chanting, “I told you so.” However, I was still overjoyed that so many low-income residents had purchased many of the new homes, thereby accomplishing what they thought they never could. Still, there was the problem of the two Whittier Homes that just would not sell.
Just when it looked as if the city would be burdened with these mortgages, an innovative “New Lima-Housing For The Future” employee intervened.
Scott Frenger, director of the Community Housing Development Organizationfor the city of Lima, devised a plan to assist reliable, hardworking residents who could not secure conventional financing. He contacted the city’s director of Community Development, Amy Odum, and proposed the solution.
Odum presented Frenger’s idea to the proper governmental authorities, and the plan was approved. After remaining empty for several years, there are now very contented families in the Whittier Homes.
A big thumbs up for Scott Frenger! He will be presented with the “Furl Williams Award” during the “Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards Banquet” this month.