News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Cedar Point

Greater Akron Chamber

Knight Foundation


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Other Stories


Communities are going into rehab
The idea is to make blighted neighborhoods livable again, and help cities stabilize their housing markets
by WKSU's TIM RUDELL


Reporter
Tim Rudell
 
Absentee owner of this house lives in Austria. Neighbors had to board up the broken windows and cut down the weeds
Courtesy of Rudell
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

A dozen new county-wide land banks are up and running in Ohio.  They are to help deal with a problem growing to crisis proportions in the state's urban areas. Tim Rudell has more on the expanding effort to do something positive with an inventory of dilapidated houses that communities don't have the resources to handle alone.

Click to listen

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:28)


(Click image for larger view.)

Canton has enough housing for one hundred and twenty thousand people—its population in the 1950s and ‘60s. There are currently only 78-thousand people living in the city. That means a third of Canton is empty. All of Ohio’s main cities—Youngtown, Cleveland, Akron, Toledo and Dayton—are much the same.

Bill Abell, a resident of Warren, points to the plywood on the windows of a large grey frame house on the corner of Mahoning and Washington. He and his neighbors nailed it up because the property’s latest owner is a speculator in Austria, and the house is derelict. Abell says that if it weren’t for his neighborhood group the grass would be overgrown, windows wide open, and copper plumbing gone.

Homes like his are mixed with fading apartment conversions aimed at transients, which is one factor directing the fate of the neighborhoods throughout the region. Many of the absentee owners are “flippers” – quick score investors buying old homes for pennies on the dollar and trying to sell them fast, often to overseas buyers via the internet.

Beyond demolition

Most Ohio cities have attempted over the last decade to step in and acquire such properties. The process is slow, and they have few choices for derelict properties beyond demolition. Thus county banks were born. They operate on a broader scale and have legal standing to cut red tape—like quickly obtaining clear titles. They also can raise money for rehabbing houses and revitalizing neighborhoods.

Former Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis helped found the first of these new acquisition entities in Ohio. He says after bill 113, more counties have authority to do this, and now there are land banks in several counties in northeast Ohio. The idea is to rehab houses in blighted areas, sell those at affordable prices to families and local businesses, and seed recovery of communities at the neighborhood level.

Alex Zumbar leads the new land bank starting in Stark County. He is the county treasurer, and typically that is who heads these organizations. Joining him are other participants from government, the banking and real estate groups, and citizens groups. Zumbar says they target parcels that can be rehabbed and produce taxes to support local public services.

Less optimistic

Like his neighbor Bill Abell, Mick Murray is a life-long Warren resident and lives across the street from the big grey house on Washington Street. He works in construction and has had some experience with property rehabs.

He is less optimistic in what seems to be a long-standing problem for old city neighborhoods that may stifle any effort to attract families. Murray says unless things fundamentally change with poverty and crime, a physical clean-up of neighborhoods alone won’t accomplish much.

Enthusiasm and momentum

The county land bank continues to move ahead with the backing of local communities and state lawmakers.

Jim Rokakis now lobbies in Washington and Columbus for more support for the projects. He says successes in the early programs like those started in Cleveland and those in Dayton and Toledo—where a combined nineteen hundred properties have been acquired—are creating momentum for the banks.

Bill Abell in Warren says he is seeing support, even enthusiasm, increasing among his neighbors and local leaders to give the county land banks a good try.

Listener Comments:

Please correct to: stabilize


Posted by: Candice Castle (Minerva) on January 28, 2012 5:01AM
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

Columbus groups are trying to pass a Bill of Rights to combat fracking
Its about time we make a stand against the criminal actions of an entire Indsutry.

Crystal Ball says Ohio governor's race is done
How much is the Kasich campaign paying you to keep repeating the phrase "woman who is not his wife"? Fitzgerald was in the car with a friend who happens to be f...

Plane that crashed killing Case students is a popular training aircraft
The following is incorrect. The last few words should read "UNDER maximum gross take-off weight." “They have a normal take-off speed and all those take-off...

Exploradio: The never-ending war against superbugs
Super Federico ,we are so proud of you ,and very lucky to be among your friends . Keep it up human kind needs people like you to survive .Thanks for being so d...

Ohio's Lyme disease-carrying tick population is exploding
Interesting report. The last sentence needs some editing. It isn't a good idea to "save garments carrying ticks for analysis." The garments carrying t...

Teach for America enters third year in Ohio
For more background on TFA, check out http://reconsideringtfa.wordpress.com/

Faith leaders hold week-long prayer vigil at Ohio Statehouse
I think this is the wrong link to the audio. Its Andy Chow about cigarette taxes.

A $30 million plan to turn Cleveland's Public Square from gray to green
The current plan is for the Land Bank, RTA, and Mr. Jeremy Paris to run a bus line through the new Public Square and cutting the park in half. Save Public Squar...

Medina County residents question safety of proposed natural gas pipeline
I'm very concerned about this nexus project. I've received mail requesting my permission to allow the company to survey my property. I don't understand how thi...

A small group of tea party and Democrats protest at Kasich campaign stop
Enjoyed your excellent coverage of the statehouse for sometime now, never dreamed I'd be on. The feedback from people has been great. Thank you. Doris Adams

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University