Lorain hopes for part of $75 million demolition money (The Morning Journal)

LORAIN — Mayor Chase Ritenauer said he is hopeful Lorain can get a part of the $75 million Ohio will use for demolition of blighted homes around the state.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, on Friday, announced Ohio will get an estimated $335 million through a settlement with the nation’s top five mortgage servicers over foreclosure abuses and fraud.

At least $75 million will go for communities to demolish abandoned properties that are deteriorating in neighborhoods, according to DeWine’s office.

Lorain has used federal money through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program to demolish homes around the city and will continue that practice.

It was unclear how the city might get a portion of the state money, Ritenauer said. However, he is hopeful Lorain might get part of the funding through a county land reutilization corporation, commonly called a land bank.

Lorain City Council, on Monday, will hold a Federal Programs Committee to discuss a resolution about a land bank.

Council will hear from Jim Rokakis, the former Cuyahoga County treasurer, who has gained national attention for his efforts to create land banks that will hold abandoned properties until the land can be sold or reused.

Ritenauer and Elyria Mayor Holly Brinda have been vocal supporters of creating a land bank through the county government.

While $75 million is a lot of money, it could be diluted quickly among Ohio’s 88 counties, and Ritenauer noted home foreclosures are not limited to urban or rural areas.

The land bank could be a key step to getting part of the state settlement money, he said.

“There are going to be dollars available,” Ritenauer said. “It’s up to us to be prepared to act on that.

“It’s such a critical tool to be able to move forward on these housing issues,” he said about a land bank.

City Council also will have a special call meeting to consider the legislation to pay a bill of $4,541 to Home Depot for Christmas decorations from last year’s Light Up Lorain celebration.

Council also will consider paying $13,980 to Arcadis U.S. Inc. for grant preparation services.

The consultant has worked with the city to obtain grant money to clean up the former RTI site behind the steel mills along the Black River.

The meeting will be at Lorain City Hall, 200 W. Erie Ave.

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