Cuyahoga County Land Bank launches housing program for veterans (Northeast Ohio Media Group)

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio — A young couple received the keys Tuesday to their new house as part of a ceremony launching a Cuyahoga County veteran-housing program.

Michael MacMillan, 28, an Air Force veteran who served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, and his pregnant wife, Elizabeth, a nurse, soon will move into their home in a quiet neighborhood off Taylor Road in University Heights.

They are buying the house from the Cuyahoga County Land Bank through the agency’s “HomeFront” pilot program. The house was sold in a sheriff’s sale in 2009 before the land bank took ownership of it in 2010, according to county land records.

The program offers eligible veterans up to 20 percent on vacant homes acquired by the Land Bank. The agency also covers closing costs; in exchange, veterans must live in the home as their primary residence for at least two years, among other requirements.

All County Land Bank properties, a mix of renovated and un-renovated homes, are available through the program. The new program is financed through a revolving loan fund established by a pair of $100,000 contributions from the Cuyahoga County Council’s Veterans Services Fund and the land bank. There also are lease-to-own options for steadily employed veterans who are not yet credit-worthy.

County Executive Ed FitzGerald said the program is meant to help the county’s veterans with their transition from active duty as well as improve the county’s housing stock. There are 93,000 veterans in Cuyahoga County, he said.

“It’s absolutely fine to talk about supporting the troops, but it’s important to make sure that real when troops return home from overseas,” FitzGerald said.

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