December 8, 2011 [Tim Rudell, WKSU]
Since 2008 the nonprofit Cuyahoga County land bank has handled over a thousand abandoned and tax dilinquent properties.
A pioneering program to help northeast Ohio communities deal with urban blight will continue. WKSU’s Tim Rudell reports that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Cuyahoga County Land Bank are renewing a 2010 agreement to work together on clearing or rehabbing abandoned and dilapidated property
Swaths of blighted housing in and around Cleveland can look like background for a post-apocalyptic movie. They’re also toxic to real estate values.
A new approach
So, the non-profit Cuyahoga County Land Bank was formed in 2008 to deal with the problem — sometimes rehabbing, sometimes tearing down old dwellings; and often expanding green spaces. The program was one of the first in the country. And last year HUD joined in, turning over properties it gets through foreclosures.
HUD’s re-upping for another year. Former Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis helped create the land bank, and applauds the move. But he says it would be better if HUD also helped finance demolition: “Because most of those properties end up meeting a wrecking ball–they’re in really bad shape—I just wish HUD would attach a check with those properties.
The Cuyahoga County program has acquired 1,300 properties. Half a dozen other large counties in Ohio are now planning land banks.