March 23, 2014 [clevleand.com]
Some people think we just like to knock down houses,” said William (“Bill”) Whitney, chief operating officer of the Cuyahoga Land Bank. “But we are here to get rid of bad apples and bad properties. The last thing any of us here want to have happen is for a house to go right back into the hands of flippers or those who can’t take care of it.”
The Cuyahoga Land Bank (Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation) was created in 2009 as a non-profit entity to “address the foreclosure crisis and deal, unfortunately, with the large number of properties that have to be demolished,” according to Whitney.
“But we pride ourselves in the number of homes we have been able to get back on the market by working with a number of both for-profit and non-profit developers. We have helped get more than 800 renovations throughout the county since 2010,” said Whitney.
The Cuyahoga Land Bank’s purpose is to acquire blighted properties and return them to productive use by: rehabilitation, sale to new private owners, demolition, preparation for traditional economic development, or creative re-use, including gardening, green space, storm water management or other ecological purposes.
Cleveland Land Bank is funded by a variety of sources, including the penalties and interest collected on delinquent real estate taxes and assessments, as well as grants from the organization’s partners. It collaborates with Cuyahoga County and all its 59 municipalities and The City of Cleveland’s Land Bank as well as many partners including social organizations. Programs are also offered to assist veterans, immigrants and other special needs groups.
Cuyahoga Land Bank houses available to the public to purchase and renovate are listed on the organization’s website (www.cuyahogalandbank.org). The houses are sold to qualified owner-occupants and professional rehabilitation contractors. Homes that need only minor renovations are offered exclusively to owner-occupants for the first 30 days through the Owner Occupant Buyer Advantage Program. A number of other renovation programs are also available.
Consumers who wish to buy a renovated home will also see a variety of relatively low-cost homes offered on the website. According to the Cuyahoga Land Bank, a homebuyer can generally afford a home worth about three times his or her annual household income. For example, if your income is $50,000, you may be able to afford a $150,000 home, taking into account other debt, credit score, size of down payment and other factors.
“If someone is interested in buying a home through us, he or she should go to the website, walk through the application process and understand clearly what is expected of them,” said Whitney.
The chief operating officer also sees more people being gradually interested in several other transactions that the Cuyahoga Land Bank offers. One of those is the Side Lot Program, designed to allow residents, garden groups and non-profit organizations to acquire vacant lots.
To be eligible, the applicant must live in and own a property adjacent to the lot, be current on all property taxes and have no current housing or zoning violations. The lot must be vacant with no structures. Letters of support must also be obtained from the appropriate City of Cleveland councilman or suburban city officials.
Whitney believes the efforts of the Cuyahoga Land Bank increase property values and improve the quality of life for all county residents.
Cuyahoga Land Bank Collaborations and Partnerships
HUD/ Fannie May
Court Community Service
City of Cleveland
North East Ohio
Regional Sewer District
Polish American Cultural Center
of Mt. Pleasant
Purple Heart Homes
University Circle, Inc.
Cleveland Housing Network
Cleveland Restoration Society