Jim Rokakis headlines the City Club

On August 15, Thriving Communities Institute Director Jim Rokakis spoke to a sold-out City Club lunch forum that attracted politicians, civil servants, land bankers and activisjim_rokakists from across the state of Ohio. Cuyahoga Land Bank Board Chair and Cleveland City Councilman Tony Brancatelli opened with an impressive introduction that recalled Rokakis’ extensive work combating the urban problems associated with the foreclosure crisis.city club - FINAL
Rokakis recounted the history of the foreclosure crisis and its effects in Northeast Ohio – the early warning signs in 2001, the unpleasant distinction of five Cleveland zip codes with the most foreclosures in the country in 2008-2009 and the hope for a reimagined community thanks to the work of many of the people in attendance.
Rokakis spoke on the creation of the Cuyahoga Land Bank, declaring it the best in the country! He also spoke of the work of Thriving Communities Institute to in increasing the number of land banks statewide. “There are now 22 land banks in Ohio, including one in 15 of 17 counties in the service area of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy,” he said.
Rokakis listed successes in the battle against the foreclosure crisis beginning with Attorney General Mike DeWine’s allocation of $75 million toward demolition from the nationwide robo-signing settlement with major banks, and then the $10 million in Hardest Hit Funds recently allocated to the Cuyahoga Land Bank for blight-clearing demolition. He also stressed the need for additional funding for demolition for the remaining vacant and abandoned properties that need to come down.
“We can’t have a new Cleveland until we tear some of the old one down,” Rokakis insisted. “The Cuyahoga Land Bank, the largest renovation entity in the county, is facilitating one rehab for every 2.8 demolitions. There is a point at which this can shift. Once we get the bad properties down, we can truly build a new Cleveland.”
“It’s not all doom and gloom,” said Rokakis. He touted an increase in young, educated people that are committing to the city; a Western Reserve Land Conservancy partnership project to increase the tree canopy in the urban core; the rejuvenation of the lakefront and the success of the Slavic Village Recovery Project model as signs of hope.

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