Mason doles out $1 million to suburbs to demolish dilapidated homes

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Mason doles out $1 million to suburbs to demolish dilapidated homes

August 1, 2012 [Mark Gillispie, The Plain Dealer]

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cuyahoga County communities will soon begin razing some of their most blighted properties using funds from a statewide mortgage fraud settlement and money provided by Prosecutor Bill Mason and the Cuyahoga County land bank.

The settlement will bring $11.8 million into Cuyahoga County for demolition. Mason has promised to meet a required match with $5 million with funds from his office and another $6.8 million from the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corp.

Mason announced grant awards today to 12 suburban communities in amounts between $50,000 and $100,000. The grants will be matched with funds gathered in the fraud settlement.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine promised earlier this year to commit $75 million of the state’s $335 million share of the settlement to demolition.

Cleveland and East Cleveland will each receive $1 million from Mason and another $1 million from the state settlement.

The county land bank will administer the grants and, in some cases, will manage the demolitions for communities, said the organization’s chief operating officer, William Whitney.

Sally Martin, housing manager for the city of South Euclid, said the $200,000 her city would receive from the county and state will pay for the demolition of 20 to 25 homes.

South Euclid, like many inner-ring suburbs, has been hit hard by the subprime mortgage mess and subsequent foreclosure crisis. Martin said 15 percent of residential properties in her city have had a foreclosure since the crisis began around 2005.

There currently are about 600 vacant properties in South Euclid and around 40 properties that need to be demolished, Martin said. South Euclid has not been immune from vandals who have stripped vacant properties of plumbing, copper and other valuables.

“We just keep finding more of them — houses in deplorable condition,” Martin said.

North Royalton Mayor Robert Stefanik said that while his city is not besieged by the problem of dilapidated homes, there still is a need for demolition. North Royalton will receive $50,000 from Mason.

“This gives us an opportunity to address the worst of the foreclosed homes in our community,” Stefanik said.

Other communities that received grants from Mason include Euclid, Cleveland Heights, Garfield Heights, Parma, Shaker Heights and Newburgh Heights, which received $100,000 each; Parma Heights, which received $90,000; Warrensville Heights, which received $70,000; and North Olmsted and Lakewood, which received $50,000 each.