Timothy Austin watched for nearly 15 years as a house across from his home in East Cleveland passed from owner to owner, each one leaving it in a worse state than the last. It fell into disrepair and finally foreclosure. When he noticed one day that the house was now part of the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s inventory, he jumped at the chance to buy it.
As a former East Cleveland City Councilman, Austin was familiar with the Cuyahoga Land Bank and its work in the community. A retired veteran who runs his own small construction company, he knew the house was ripe for renovation. “It was a shame how bad the house got,” says Austin. “There were huge holes in the roof and so many raccoons. Someone even stole the entire sandstone porch off the house.”
With plans to move his mother into the home, Austin set out to renovate the house from top to bottom. He replaced the HVAC system and a lot of the ductwork in the house, installed a new driveway and built a new garage. He updated the kitchen and bath and painted the entire interior and exterior of the home. And, of course, he added a lovely new front porch.
“Working with the Land Bank on this house was so easy, and it worked out very well for me,” he says. “Regular inspections kept me on task, and the inspector was more like an advisor. He checked in regularly to make sure everything was going well and offered advice throughout the process.”
Austin is thrilled with the renovations and that he had a hand in revitalizing the vacant and blighted house. “There are lots of things that make me happy about this project, but knowing this corner in the neighborhood will have life in it again means a lot to me.”
As he puts the finishing touches on the house and awaits final inspection, Austin admits he is interested in potentially buying another Land Bank home to renovate. “I would do it again. I would also recommend the Deed-in-Escrow program to anyone wanting to learn, grow, and succeed. This program can change lives.”