Area land banks awarded $500,000 (Tribtoday.com)

WARREN – The Ohio Housing Finance Agency has awarded land banks in Trumbull and Mahoning counties $500,000 each.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland, announced Tuesday that OHFA, through its Neighborhood Initiative Program, has made $13 million available from the U.S. Treasury’s Hardest Hit Funds for 12 Ohio land banks.

“I am pleased to announce that our local land banks have been rewarded for their hard work and commitment to excellence,” a news release from Ryan stated. “These funds allow our local land banks to continue improving quality of life in Northeast Ohio by fighting blight and creating sustainable neighborhoods.”

The program aims to stabilize property values by removing and greening vacant and blighted properties in targeted areas to prevent future foreclosures for existing homeowners in those neighborhoods. Local land banks acquire and find productive uses for vacant, abandoned or tax-foreclosed properties.

“This allocation gives a huge shot in the arm to (Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership) and the TCLRC’s (Trumbull County Land Reutilization Corporation) established effort to increase the quality of life in the neighborhoods of Trumbull County,” said TNP Executive Director Matt Martin. “We have torn down over a hundred houses through this program already and greened a dozen lots. We have a ways to go and this will help us take another huge step forward.”

Mahoning County Land Reutilization Corporation also received $500,000.

This is the fourth round of Neighborhood Initiative funding. Recipients qualified by showing progress in acquiring vacant and blighted properties. Funds were recycled from land banks that have not met minimum property acquisition requirements. OHFA was allocated $570.4 million of Hardest Hit Funds by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in 2010, and $79 million of those funds have been approved for use by the NIP.

Hardest Hit Funds were released following the housing crisis to assist state governments in their efforts to help struggling homeowners in the 18 hardest hit states. State Housing Finance Agencies have until the end of 2017 to use the funds.

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