News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Wayside Furniture

Akron General

Northeast Ohio Medical University


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Economy and Business


Fake facades aren't enough to cover Ohio's abandoned home problems
Problems remain in big and small communities
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE BUREAU CHIEF KAREN KASLER


Reporter
Karen Kasler
 
The foreclosure crisis has hit homes in communities throughout Ohio, including Mansfield.
Courtesy of flickr
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

Though many experts say the nation’s foreclosure crisis is waning, at least 100,000 abandoned homes remain in Ohio. Ohio Public Radio’s Karen Kasler reports that communities are struggling to get a grip on the problem, though there are some new ideas and new money coming in to help.

 

LISTEN: Kasler on housing conference

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:36)


There are so many vacant, abandoned and boarded-up houses in the United States that dealing with them is now almost an industry in itself.

Scott Smith sells a Michigan-made product called Home Illusions, which he says he’s marketing to landlords and municipalities. 
“We manufacture a vinyl graphic in the form of a window or a door – goes right over top of the plywood.”

Habitat moves to rehab
The problem of abandoned housing has become so big in Cuyahoga County that Habitat for Humanity International, the charitable organization that builds new homes for lower-income families, has changed its approach a bit. John Habat is with Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. 

“In Cleveland we’ve moved totally to rehabbing vacant houses. So this year and next year and perhaps the next few years, we will not build any new houses because of the abundance of vacant properties already available.”

But while those ideas might help overwhelmed communities handle the visible damage of the foreclosure crisis, they don’t solve the problem. For the official who was one of the first to speak out about it, the solution in most cases is not in renovation, but demolition. Jim Rokakis was the Cuyahoga County treasurer during many of the worst years of the foreclosure crisis, and now heads the Thriving Communities Institute.  He says none of Ohio’s biggest cities have avoided the devastation.

Small towns and big cities
“In fact, if you visit some of the small towns in Ohio, you will learn that nobody has escaped this. Look at Mansfield, Ohio, Lima, Ohio. There’s no shortage – I hate to say this – of depressed and depressing small towns in Ohio.”

Rokakis says $60 million in demolition assistance is coming from the federal government’s Hardest Hit Fund, which has provided billions to 18 states that suffered the highest numbers of foreclosures. And $75 million has come from the nationwide settlement with five banks over the use of robo-signings, when thousands of documents were signed with no verification or review.  Attorney General Mike DeWine says every state got a chunk of that settlement. 

“No state is using as much money as we are to assist local communities to deal with this blight.” 

More needed
Rokakis says there’s about $180 million now available for demolition of abandoned and vacant homes. It’s a lot of money, but he says it’s not enough.

“That gets us about a fifth of the way there. So it’s a problem. The people who live in these neighborhoods don’t have any political clout. We have to devote some resources to helping to clean up really what are the inner cities of Ohio.”

Rokakis headed up the state’s first county land bank, a corporation that acquires abandoned properties to clean up and sell. He now helps to set up land banks. There are 16 in Ohio, and eight more are on the way, thanks to a state law that allows any county with more than 60,000 residents to create one. But Rokakis says that will still leave a lot of area uncovered; those 24 land banks will cover only about 60 percent of the 42 counties that can legally set them up.

Listener Comments:

This is so crazy. People out here are needing homes. Why don't they offer them up to those who have lost homes and work a payback plan according to there incomes. Studies show that when a person takes ownership of his/her home there's a pride that can't be put into words. This will help bring back communities. People who own their own won't let it go in despair if they can help it. I swear, sometimes we get so high up, we don't even notice the nose bleed. For real.


Posted by: Shaye (Green) on November 23, 2013 3:11AM
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

Western Stark Free Clinic is set to close but to continue its role
WHAT OTHER DENTAL CLINICS AND MEDICAL CLINICS ARE IN THE CANTON AND MASSILLON, OHIO AREAS?

Three exonerated of murder convictions from 18 years ago
Thanks heavens that none of them have been condemned to death. This alons should convince the USA to join the civilized world by abolishing the death penalty. E...

Kombucha: a sweet business brewed with fermented tea
Stevia is not an artificial sweetener. It is a plant. I have one growing in my sunroom. The leaves are dried and added to teas. It's harvested commercially and...

Bringing back ballet in Cleveland
I do think Ballet in Cleveland is doing good things, but the fact that director says "When we have flourishing companies like the New York City Ballet and the A...

Report confirms some Vietnam veterans may have been exposed to Agent Orange
was in nam 1969 exposed va stated lost medical records was in lawsuit from 197? till settled 0 $ 2010 ? said all nam vets will get back disability till 198? jus...

Mentorship grant program redefines "faith-based" provision
Can't anyone have values, beliefs, and morals anymore? How is it anymore unconstitutional for a school partner with a "faith-based" organization than any other ...

Exploradio: The challenge of finding a healthy balance with technology
Thank you, Jeff, for another well done Exploradio. I always learn something interesting about what is happening in NE Ohio.

Northeast Ohio's transgender community rallies around restroom issue
A good first step would be for Cleveland to require restaurants to have a public restroom. Cleveland is the only city I've ever been in where restaurants somet...

Vapor shops say tobacco tax hikes could hit them hard
Maybe you should be DOING a study, since every time you've tried to villianize them all that's happened was the opposite. I'm not a fan of alcohol that's flavor...

New law gives access to birth records to Ohio adoptees
Can siblings also look for their missing brother or sister? And how do we go about it?

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University