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Zombie Homes: The ‘Post-Housing Crisis Hangover’

Cleveland’s Ward 8 is filled with zombie homes, which many have called a “post-housing crisis hangover,” WBUR reports. 

“You can see a great deal of demolition, but it’s not enough,” said Cleveland City Councilman Michael Polensek. Polensek says Cleveland now spends about $2 million a year just cutting grass on abandoned properties.

Part of the problem, Polensek adds, is tax collection.

““The county has done a terrible job at collecting taxes. We have the worst collection record in the state,” he says. “So you had predatory lending, then you had absentee landlords. And then the county, where we could have saved these structures, had there been a reasonable foreclosure process. These properties went on for years and years.”

Another issue is redlining: the illegal practice of denying loans to minority applicants who then can’t get the funds they need to keep up their payments or improve their properties, but what’s happening in Cleveland is not necessarily the traditional type of redlining.

“I believe it’s redlining by community, by ZIP code,” Polensek says. “Does racial consideration factor in some cases? Without a doubt.”

Nationally, over 1.5 million (1,530,563) U.S. single-family homes and condos are vacant, representing 1.6% of all homes, according to a new report from ATTOM Data Solutions. Ohio holds one of the highest rates of zombie homes in the country, with a total of around 891 in the state. Around half of these vacant homes are in the Cleveland-Elyria metro area, with 431 homes. 

Additionally, the top two zip codes nationwide with the highest number of zombie properties (with at least 100 properties in pre-foreclosure) are 44105 (57) and 44108 (54).

Another reason for these high number of vacant and abandoned homes caused by foreclosure is the high number of jobs lost in the Cleveland area. The city of Cleveland, Polensek says, has lost between 20,000 and 25,000 manufacturing jobs. Residents lose their homes after being unable to make payments, and eventually just abandon it.

About Author: Seth Welborn

Seth Welborn is a Reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Harding University, he has covered numerous topics across the real estate and default servicing industries. Additionally, he has written B2B marketing copy for Dallas-based companies such as AT&T. An East Texas Native, he also works part-time as a photographer.
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