With more than 100,000 vacant properties in the state, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine designated part of OhioÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s $335 million from the recent national settlement with the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s largest servicers for property demolition. However, not everyone agrees with the decision.[IMAGE]
""We would have much rather spent that money helping families and creating homes rather than knocking houses down that we believe are owned by some very well-resourced banks,"" said Chris Warren, Cleveland's chief of regional development, according to the ""_Huffington Post._"":http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/19/cleveland-mortgage-settlement_n_1275896.html
Cleveland has been particularly hard-hit by the crisis. According to the _Post,_ Cleveland and surrounding Cuyahoga County have about 23,000 vacant homes on record.
Furthermore, some homes in Cuyahoga County have been reported as selling at 8 percent of their appraised values, according to a recent letter from Ohio and Michigan lawmakers to Congress.[COLUMN_BREAK]
As such, Empowering and Strengthening OhioÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s People, a foreclosure prevention counseling agency, supports DeWineÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s decision.
""[T]earing down these abandoned structures is every bit as important as keeping people in their home in the first place,"" said Mark Seifert, executive director of the agency.
""ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s kind of like treating someone for a broken leg and ignoring the fact that their foot is also broken; both issues need to be addressed,"" he continued, adding that he is ""hopeful that [DeWine] will also direct a portion of this settlement to the work in the trenches the counselors do every day to prevent further vacant properties.""
About $75 million is being directed to a grant program focused on the destruction of vacant properties.
""I am very pleased today to commit $75 million to the creation of a grant program through my office that will provide communities with much-needed funding to remove the blight and give our neighborhoods a chance to prosper,"" DeWine said with the release of the settlement details.
Ohio has an estimated 100,000 vacant properties depressing its housing markets and posing safety threats to its neighborhoods, according to the attorney general.
Ohio lawmakers recently partnered with Michigan representatives to ""petition"":http://dsnews.comarticles/michigan-ohio-lawmakers-propose-large-scale-demolition-2012-01-27 the federal government for support for large-scale demolitions.
According to the letter, Ohio has more than 700,000 properties that are ""beyond repair.""
DeWineÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s grant program is a first step in addressing these neighborhood blights.