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The Fight to Eliminate Blight Continues

money-life-preserverWhile a fast track foreclosure bill aimed at eliminating blight awaits a vote in the Ohio State Senate, the U.S. Senate in Ohio has taken action.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) has announced that following his urging, Ohio will receive $97.6 million in federal funding and is eligible to receive another quarter of a billion in order to prevent the spread of blight and help rebuild communities that were devastated by the foreclosure crisis.

The new federal funding is part of the additional $2 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funding announced by the U.S. Department of Treasury on February 19 for the Hardest Hit Fund (HHF). It is also part of a $2 billion investment Brown secured in December in order to bolster the HHF as part of the year-end government funding bill, according to an announcement from Brown.

“This new funding will go a long way toward helping Ohio communities and homeowners that are still recovering from the devastation of the foreclosure crisis,” said Brown, ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. “When one home is foreclosed on or abandoned, it has a ripple effect that hurts the value of other homes in the neighborhood. Getting rid of abandoned properties helps to strengthen neighborhoods and reduce crime. I will continue fighting to ensure that Ohio gets its fair share of resources through the Hardest Hit Fund.”

“Getting rid of abandoned properties helps to strengthen neighborhoods and reduce crime.”

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown

Ohio will be awarded a direct infusion of $97.6 million from the HHF to put toward foreclosure mitigation and blight demolition. In addition, the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) is eligible to apply for another $250 billion through the HHF. Since 2010, largely through Brown’s efforts, the HHF has awarded more than $570 million to Ohio, which has helped nearly 25,000 homeowners in the state. OHFA has until March 11, 2016 to apply for the additional funding. Along with the additional TARP funding announced by Treasury last month, Treasury also announced that it is extending the drawdown date for the funding from 2017 to 2020.

The subject of eliminating blight by reducing the amount of time that properties stay vacant was called an “issue of national concern” by Five Star Institute President and CEO Ed Delgado due to the potential of vacant properties to attract squatters, vandalism, and violent crime. Last month, Delgado met with HUD Secretary Julián Castro to discuss the issue. In November 2015, Delgado delivered opening remarks and moderated two panels—one on transforming blighted communities—at the National Property Preservation Conference (NPPC) in Washington, D.C. In his opening remarks at the NPPC, Delgado called for national solutions for what the vacant and abandoned properties issue and praised Ohio State Bill H.B. 134, a fast-track foreclosure bill aimed at expediting the foreclosure crisis.

The bill passed in the Ohio House by a unanimous vote in November and is currently awaiting a vote in the Ohio State Senate. Delgado called Ohio State Bill H.B. 134 “an important template towards the introduction of a national course of solution for vacant and abandoned properties.”

About Author: Brian Honea

Brian Honea's writing and editing career spans nearly two decades across many forms of media. He served as sports editor for two suburban newspaper chains in the DFW area and has freelanced for such publications as the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Dallas Home Improvement magazine, and the Dallas Morning News. He has written four non-fiction sports books, the latest of which, The Life of Coach Chuck Curtis, was published by the TCU Press in December 2014. A lifelong Texan, Brian received his master's degree from Amberton University in Garland.
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