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.

Akron Children's Hospital

Northeast Ohio Medical University

Don Drumm Studios


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
Economy and Business


Half-billion-dollar Ohio foreclosure fund causes dispute
Should the money to prevent foreclosures be diverted to demolition?
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE BUREAU CHIEF KAREN KASLER


Reporter
Karen Kasler
 
Jim Rokakis set up the Cuyahoga County Land Bank, which became a model for the state.
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:
A $570 million fund set up in Ohio to help people facing foreclosure is being eyed by others who’ve been working on the housing crisis. Ohio Public Radio’s Karen Kasler reports on a spat over how best to use that money.
LISTEN: Foreclosure fund lobbying (abbreviated)

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (1:01)


LISTEN: Foreclosure fund dispute (extended version)

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:21)


In 2009, the federal government set aside $8 billion to help with the foreclosure crisis in 18 troubled states. Ohio’s share of the so-called Hardest Hit Fund was $570 million – the largest award of any Midwestern state and a sign of how bad the crisis has been here.

Bill Faith leads the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, and says the fund has done great work in three years. 

“It helped more than 10,000 homeowners stay in their homes, and only 0.5 percent have lost their homes. I mean, I’ve never seen a program where you only have ... half-a-percent failure rate.”

Demolition gets a share?
Faith acknowledges the fund been slow to get started, so there’s still about $375 million remaining in it. Andhe says that’s allowed advocates on another critical issue in the crisis to set their sights on the pool of money. That other issue  is the demolition of thousands of homes that are some of the very visible casualties of the crisis.

When Jim Rokakis was Cuyahoga County's treasurer, he was one of the first officials to warn of the coming foreclosure crisis. Rokakis is now the vice president of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, and has been appealing to officials at the state and federal level to make money available for teardowns. 

“The only way you get ahead of this problem is by aggressively moving after these vacant structures. If you don’t, the structures that are not vacant in those neighborhoods will become vacant. That’s not even a ‘maybe’ – that’s a ‘for sure.' Why would you live in a neighborhood where every other house is vacant? You wouldn’t. You’d leave.”

Some money is already targeting demos
Seventy-five million came in from to the state the nationwide settlement with mortgage lenders to help with demolition, but Rokakis says abandoned homes are a billion dollar problem in Ohio. Rokakis is getting support from Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, who’s proposed a bill that would allow money from the Hardest Hit Fund to be put toward demolition, and sets no limit on how much could be taken from it.

That scares Bill Faith, who says with more than 70,000 new foreclosures in Ohio each year, the crisis isn’t over yet. 
“Don’t go rob Peter to pay Paul. Does it really make sense to add to the demolition load by not preventing preventable foreclosures and adding more stock to those that may fall into vacant and abandoned properties?”

Just a share
Rokakis says he’s never asked for all the money in the Hardest Hit Fund, but in a time of government austerity, he says funds for demolition need to be found quickly to slow down the foreclosure crisis that Faith is warning about. 

“If we don’t deal with these distressed properties, there are parts of Cleveland and Dayton and Toledo and Youngstown that will end up looking like Detroit.”

If Sen. Portman’s bill doesn’t move, it may be up to Gov. John Kasich to decide if the money in the Hardest Hit Fund can be diverted from assistance to delinquent homeowners to tearing down abandoned properties -- and if so, how much.

Michigan just ordered $100 million of its fund for demolition. Ohio’s other U.S. senator, Democrat Sherrod brown, has stepped in, asking Kasich to move only as much as a quarter of the remaining Hardest Hit Funds toward demolishing vacant homes.

 

 


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

Nature and nourishment down by the river at the Metroparks' Merwin's Wharf
I love QUICKBITES! I look forward to it every week. One question: is it possible to include a link to the restaurant or store that you profile? Thanks!

Canton's proposed Timken-McKinley school merger is drawing spirited debate
From a sports opinion Varsity would have a lot more talent to choose from So Im sure varsity sports would improve.Also Timkens name would be much more published...

Canton school board will decide whether to merge high schools
I really hope we can save those jobs, usually we try to cut budgets but the demand is still the same. Then we look bad a year or two after the descion is made. ...

FirstEnergy wants PUCO guarantees on nuclear and coal prices
Would just comment that the plant has admitted the following (as reporting in the Akron Beacon Journal): "The utility has said it may have difficulty keeping t...

Mozzarella's easy when you have a way with curd
Hello, Where can I get such a heater that you have? Does it hold temperature that you set? What brand and model is it? Thank you in advance!! :)

Pluto: A healthy LeBron James is the key for the rocky Cavs
It's time to back our Cleveland professional teams through thick and thin. I've seen management, players and coaches come and go and it hasn't changed a thing. ...

Legal marijuana group offers new details about ballot issue
Americans feel as if they should have the right to decide on their own if and when it is or is not a responsible time to have a drink or smoke a joint. The fac...

The PUCO is assessing what happened in Akron's AT&T outage
not the first time for that steam pipe break... happened in the late 70's when the office was being converted to electronic switch ESS.. was a big mess then but...

The freeze of green-energy standards hurts Ohio wind and solar industries
What do we do at night and when the wind isn't blowing? Where does the power come from to back-up these renewable sources?

Gov. Kasich may still face budget battles with Ohio lawmakers
Governor Kasich continues to disappoint many of us who voted for him when he was elected Governor four years ago. It is way past time for charter schools to b...

Copyright © 2015 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