June 30, 2011 [DSNews.com]
Wells Fargo and Bank of America recently joined Fannie Mae, HUD, and JP Morgan Chase as revitalization and demolition partners to the Cleveland-based Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation (Cuyahoga Land Bank), which works to alleviate foreclosure and home abandonment in Cuyahoga County.
The local land bank acquires properties and returns them to productive use to increase property values and improve quality of life for county residents.
Wells Fargo, working through the REO Clearinghouse (REO CH), began donating vacant and foreclosed low-asset properties to Cuyahoga Land Bank with a contribution toward demolition equal to $3,500 per property in certain target areas and $7,500 per property in the rest of the county.
Bank of America entered into a similar agreement to donate up to 100 vacant and foreclosed low-asset properties following the same monetary donation structure.
“The Cuyahoga Land Bank is thrilled to be adding Bank of America, along with Wells Fargo, to a continually growing list of partners in our efforts to eliminate blight and return properties in Cuyahoga County to productive use,” said Gus Frangos, president and general counsel for the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation.
“Each partnership we are able to establish provides us with more resources to tackle the issues of blight created by foreclosure and abandonment within our communities,” Frangos added.
Wells Fargo asked REO CH to help negotiate and manage a program to make low-value properties available to the Cuyahoga Land Bank even when a property is eligible for demolition. Wells Fargo donated 26 properties over the past several weeks, most with a contribution toward demolition with funds totaling $127,000.
“Wells Fargo is pleased to have been the first bank working with the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation to donate both properties and funds to the Land Bank,” said
Russ Cross, Midwest regional servicing director for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, says the company will be looking at additional properties it can contribute to the Cuyahoga County Land Bank this year.
According to Cross, local, collaborative approaches like this can also help lead to national solutions.
“Communities need a straightforward and streamlined way to identify foreclosed properties from financial institutions like ours, and we can be a source of funding to finance some revitalization activities,” Cross noted. “The Cuyahoga County Land Bank is a great example of the kind of best practices we can share with mayors across the nation.”
In addition to its partnership with Cuyahoga Land Bank and plans to contribute 100 homes to the local initiative, Bank of America’s homeownership retention and foreclosure prevention initiatives in Cleveland include a recent mortgage modification outreach event where nearly customers responded to invitations to meet with homeownership retention specialists.
“Unfortunately, many homeowners faced with unemployment, underemployment, and other economic hardships have transitioned to alternative housing situations, many leaving behind vacant and deteriorating properties that can cause neighborhood blight,” said Rebecca Mairone, national mortgage outreach executive for Bank of America Home Loans.
“We are addressing this growing inventory of abandoned, uninhabitable properties with this program in Cleveland and similar programs we have announced in Chicago and Detroit,” Mairone continued. “Bank of America is committed to a comprehensive neighborhood stabilization approach to help support our customers and the communities we serve and live in.”