February 26, 2019 [Courtney Astolfi, cleveland.com]
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cuyahoga County Council on Tuesday approved a $30 million housing program that aims to stabilize home values, eliminate blight and encourage renovation and construction of affordable housing.
Council voted 11-0 on the legislation that was drafted in concert with the Cuyahoga Land Bank and the county’s Department of Development. The legislation was sponsored by Council President Dan Brady, Vice President Pernel Jones Jr., council members Dale Miller and Cheryl Stephens and co-sponsored by council members Yvonne Conwell, Sunny Simon and Michael Gallagher.
The six-year, three-prong program will refocus the county land bank from demolition projects to mostly home rehabilitations.
Here are the details:
- Renovation component: The county land bank will identify properties suitable for renovation. It will either renovate properties before selling to a buyer, or screen potential buyers to determine if they can handle the renovation, then hold the deed in escrow until the buyers complete required renovations.
- Homeowner-assistance component: The Department of Development will provide financial and technical assistance to current or potential homeowners who want to find affordable housing or maintain the housing they already have. Financial assistance will be for home repairs or mortgages under $70,000, as banks often don’t provide small-dollar mortgages even if the prospective buyer is creditworthy, council staff have said.
- Housing market component: The county land bank will attempt to improve housing markets by spurring investment in emerging and future markets by improving home values and jump-starting private development.
Changes to the legislation proposed by Councilwoman Sunny Simon and approved by Council will also allow the county land bank to use county dollars for demolition in order to help spur investment in certain housing markets. The amendment also allows cities to essentially veto a county land bank decision to rehabilitate or demolish a structure within their borders. But the amendment does not allow cities to compel the county land bank to take up projects.
The $30 million program will be financed with $21.5 million from fees collected on delinquent property taxes, and $7.5 million in casino tax revenues.