October 29, 2014 [Andrew Cass, The News-Herald]
After months of discussion and a few last minute amendments, Cuyahoga County Council has approved a plan to make $50 million for demolition of both residential and commercial structures.
Municipalities in the county will be able to apply for $41 million of that money, with the other $9 million being allocated to the Cuyahoga County Land Bank.
The money will be handed out to municipalities in rounds. Municipalities can apply for up to $1 million in the first round of funding, while up to $2 million could be awarded in subsequent rounds. No more than $100,000 shall be awarded for the demolition of any individual structure, though some council members have said they would like to see that number bumped up to $200,000.
Municipalities can apply for a subsequent round of funding only after taking “all legal actions necessary to enable demolition” of at least 80 percent of the structures approved for demolition.
The funds will be equally available to all the municipalities in the county, despite previous attempts from representatives from Cleveland and inner-ring suburbs to receive a larger percentage of that funding.
Council approved Councilman David Greenspan’s amendment to give municipalities the option to receive funding in the form of a no-interest loan as opposed to a grant. Applicants who choose to go this route will be eligible to receive a grant equal to 50 percent of the principal amount of the original loan after the loan is paid off.
Greenspan’s plan called for the these grants to come out of the general fund, but Councilwoman Sunny Simon made an amendment to create a revolving loan fund to receive any principle loan repayments, which would then be used to payout the grants. Simon’s amendment was approved.
At a previous meeting regarding demolition funding, Cleveland City Council members urged the County Council to consider allocating some the funding for rehabilitation. County Councilwoman Yvonne M. Conwell had also expressed an interest in allocating some funds for rehabbing properties, but she said the bond council issued a legal opinion stating that it could not be done through this plan.
“Hopefully going forward with the committee process we can talk about other things in regards to (rehab) and especially a housing plan for Cuyahoga County,” Conwell said.
Councilman Pernel Jones said nobody in the country has attempted a demolition plan this ambitious.
“I always say legislation is organic,” Jones said. “What we do today is not the end of the process, it’s really the beginning.”