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.

Lehmans

Levin Furniture


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

Ohio lawmakers propose grants for home construction for disabled people
We have been trying to have a "Visitability Bill" passed for years. Thanks, Greg

Lake County crimes may give Trump immigration fodder
Shoddy reporting at best. "Mixed views" The question that came to my mind was, "How many people did he have to interview to get "mixed views". Do the two peo...

Ohio's U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown announces plans to improve Medicare by lowering prescription costs for seniors
Sounds good. I'm living in Florida to escape the snow. So far it's working. I retired from GM in 2000. Keep pushing for all the working people. In the long run ...

The tiny town that time, and elections, forgot may go out of existence
Thank you for this story. I grew up in Limaville, my parents home is there still...unsellable due to the septic/sewer problem. Sometimes I am sorry I left...wis...

Where Ohio'sJohn Kasich stands in the presidential polls
We are fans of Gov. Kasich since he served in the House of Representatives. It pleases us to finally see him as the potential President of the United States. We...

Cleveland hosts the first national Movement for Black Lives conference
What a wonderful experience this was, So much love and understanding, without all of the other distractions that tend to come with organizing for change, this e...

Air Force unit gets training and Youngstown gets rid of some eyesores
Do they have to totally destroy all the beautiful oak and leaded windows, which I am thinking are probably there? Do they just have to destroy them like that? C...

Jewish challah and Native American fry bread at an Akron cultural exchange
Each time I saw the young students relate to each other, I got goose bumps. These young students can and hopefully will teach all of us to live and respect eac...

One of the Cleveland Orchestra's most celebrated musicians bids farewell
I had the honor of studying with Franklin Cohen in the late 80s and early 90s. He is unparalleled both as a clarinetist and as a musician. His deep personal war...

Summa's dress code is not 'etched in stone'
SOME OF THESE POLICIES ARE A COMPLETE JOKE. UNLESS YOU ARE DOING THESE TYPE OF JOBS EVERY DAY, YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT IS COMFORTABLE AND REASONABLE OR NOT. UNLESS ...

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