February 28, 2014 [The Plain Dealer]
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Cuyahoga County will receive the largest portion of $49.5 million in federal money going to Ohio counties for the demolition of vacant or blighted homes.
The Cuyahoga County Land Bank will receive $10.1 million of the state’s latest share of “Hardest Hit Funds” – a program that falls under the umbrella of 2008’s federal Trouble Assets Relief Program — the Ohio Housing Finance Authority announced on Friday.
Land banks in 10 other counties also received a cut of the money.
Numerous factors guided the distributions, including county population and the magnitude of vacant and blighted properties owned by land banks or targeted for acquisition. The money can offer up to $25,000 for each demolition, but the average per-demolition assistance is expected to be $12,000.
Cuyahoga County is estimated to have between 10,000 and 15,000 blighted properties, according to a recent study from the Western Reserve Land Conservancy.
Two other nearby counties will also receive demolition funding – Lorain County will get $3 million, and Summit County will get $2 million, according to the Ohio Housing Finance Authority, the state agency that distributes the funds in Ohio.
The remaining $34.5 million will be split among Lucas County ($6 million), Franklin County ($5.8 million) Hamilton County ($5 million) Montgomery County ($5 million) and Mahoning County ($4.2 million), among others.
“The Neighborhood Initiative Program will provide much-needed relief to Ohio counties with a large number of vacant and dilapidated homes,” said Ohio Housing Finance Agency Executive Director Doug Garver in a written statement. “This program will not only alleviate the burden of blighted neighborhoods on families, communities and Ohio’s economy; it will also help to keep individuals in their homes.”
The state will distribute a second round of federal demolition funding later this year. And, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald announced earlier this month that he is taking steps to borrow up to $50 million to fund demolitions within the county.
However, FitzGerald has not yet shared the details of his program.