This story was originally published by ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive their biggest stories as soon as they’re published. This story was co-published with The Cincinnati Enquirer.
For five years, economic development officials in Toledo, Ohio, have operated a pilot program that allows residents to borrow money for energy-saving home renovations without paying exorbitant interest rates. The program has been widely seen as a success, with only one of 61 borrowers currently delinquent on their repayments.
But now officials at the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority are preparing to expand the program to other parts of Ohio in a way that has led to trouble for some homeowners in other states — by turning over the program to a private, for-profit lender.
Those plans, which supporters say are necessary to grow the program to additional areas across the state, have many other local officials and housing advocates worried that borrowers will be harmed.