Ohio shifts $60 million from foreclosure prevention to demolition (WKSU)

Ohio has been approved for $60 million to expand demolition of  vacant houses.

The U.S. Treasury Department gave the nod to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency to use part of the state’s $375 million “Hardest Hit Funds” to tear down blighted properties.

Among those praising the news is Jim Rokakis, director of the Thriving Communities Institute and engineer of Ohio’s first county land bank.  He says this all began nearly two years ago, when community groups, housing advocates and congressional representatives met with Treasury officials about the foreclosure crisis.

“With the collapse of Frannie and Freddie, the U.S government now backstops nine out of 10 mortgages.  And we saw a clear connection between vacant properties and increased foreclosures.  Our argument to them was, “Help us find money to take down some of these vacant properties, and we think we can bring down the foreclosure rate.” So if you have to spend $20,000 to take down two houses. But it saves you from having to guarantee a mortgage of $150,000, that’s a good deal.”

The Ohio Housing Finance Agency figures that, when the new demolition initiative begins next year, $2,000 will be available per property. That means 5,000 empty and foreclosed homes will be razed.

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