Flexibility needed to fix blight: editorial (Plain Dealer)

To demo or not to demo? When it comes to neighborhoods full of vacant and abandoned homes, that is not the right question.

Nor is it the right answer.

The best strategy to restore vitality and value is a combination of foreclosure prevention and demolition and cleanup.

That is why the recent decision of the U.S. Treasury Department to free up hundreds of millions of dollars in the Hardest Hit Fund to raze some properties is smart public policy.

The decision has angered foreclosure prevention advocates such as Bill Faith, executive director of theCoalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, who told Plain Dealer Washington Bureau Chief Stephen Koff that the fund was intended to help keep at-risk homeowners in their homes. “Why in the world would we want to stop that by tearing down houses?” Faith asked.

“Our studies showed that demolitions increase property values; increased property values mean more stability and more stability means fewer foreclosures,” responds Jim Rokakas, director of the Thriving Communities Institute.

Douglas Garver, head of the Ohio Housing Financing Agency, wants to reallocate at least $60 million in federal foreclosure-prevention funds for blight elimination.

“We can still help people stay in their homes and at the same time target blight,” he said.

If he’s able to deliver on that two-pronged strategy, it should defuse the concerns.

Read it from the source.

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