HUD gives first dibs on low-value houses in Cleveland to the city and nonprofit groups

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HUD gives first dibs on low-value houses in Cleveland to the city and nonprofit groups

November 21, 2009 [Sandra Livingston, The Plain Dealer]

HUD’s Cleveland plan

How it works: Properties valued at less than $20,000 are sold for $100 to the city or a designated nonprofit group. Since May, 285 houses have changed hands — 160 went on the city’s demolition list and the rest are slated for renovation. And HUD has offered an additional 79 of these low-value houses, which the city plans to take.

Homes valued above $20,000 will be sold to the city or nonprofit for as much as a 50 percent discount. They only get a discounted first crack at those houses if they’re in areas targeted for concentrated investment. Otherwise the discount is available after the house has been on the market 60 days. So far, just one such higher-value house is scheduled to transfer to a nonprofit.

HUD is talking with the Cuyahoga County land bank about taking the program countywide. HUD piloted the program here and has taken a different version of it nationwide.

What people are saying: The deal is a good step that should be expanded so that the city can get a $100 first crack on properties valued up to $50,000, or potential buyers interested in a HUD house should be prescreened to make sure they’ll responsibly repair the property.

“The $20,000 to $50,000 range is treacherous because of the likelihood of properties going to people who are ill-qualified or who don’t intend to bring them to code.” — Cleveland Councilman Jay Westbrook

“A really good vehicle for getting these vacant properties that have been sitting around into the hands of people who are going to do something productive with them.” — Chad Dasher, executive director, Westown Community Development Corp.