CLEVELAND - Local lawmakers believe more federal demolition funds must be found to stop the dramatic drop in northeast Ohio property values.
Former Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis said he believes the number of condemned homes and buildings in northeast Ohio has ballooned to 30,000.
Rokakis blamed foreclosures and irresponsible banks, investment firms and individuals who have walked away or ignored their distressed properties.
The growth in vacant houses comes at a time when federal neighborhood stabilization funds, used to demolish these homes, will soon run dry.
Rokakis said vacant homes are one of the leading causes of a dramatic drop in regional property values.
"After 10 years of foreclosure crisis, we have an absolutely stunning drop in property values," said Rokakis. "This is not just the problem of the inner city, it's now become the problem of every homeowner in Cuyahoga County."
Rokakis pointed to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Just last week, 5 On Your Side was given an exclusive preview of the study and its findings.
The study focuses on the 27,000 Cuyahoga County homeowners who sold their homes in 2010. It outlines a massive drop in property values that caused these homeowners sell their houses for a total of 1.4 billion dollars less that the homes county assessed value.
Rokakis and other Northeast Ohio leaders believe vacant homes are dragging down property values by promoting crime and safety hazards.
In response to this growing problem, the city of Cleveland passed two new laws designed to hold irresponsible property owners accountable for their condemned homes. The legislation gives Cleveland more weapons in pursuing property owners for thousands in demolition costs, which were initially paid for by city tax dollars.
Rokakis said he believes dropping property values will cause thousand of homeowners to demand lower property taxes during reassessments in 2012.
Rokakis forecasts Northeast Ohio will lose hundreds of millions of dollars in property tax revenue over the next three years, further reducing city and county services and quality of life.
Cleveland Councilman Tony Brancatelli said he believes the only way to stop spiraling property values is with legislation designed to created additional federal demolition dollars.
"We have to raise more demolition dollars, we have to go to our federal government and have them hold the mortgage companies accountable," said Brancatelli. "We got to stop bailing out the banks and the mortgage companies and have them start bailing out our neighborhoods."
Meanwhile, Rokakis is searching for ways to generate needed federal demolition funds.
"This foreclosure crisis has had an impact that none of us really fully understand," said Rokakis. "We're feeling the impact every day. We're feeling it in vacant properties, we're feeling it in reduced sale prices and we're feeling it a destabilized real estate market that seems to have no end."
Check out this page for an interactive map that points you to the correct person to contact about vacant homes in your community: http://on.wews.com/uMBNOx
We'll bring you a 5 On Your Side Troubleshooter Investigation that will uncover the reasons for a growing number of vacant homes, and search for solutions, Tuesday, on NewsChannel5 at 11 p.m. Join the conversation about this story on Twitter using the hashtag #WEWSblight.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Dawn and Mike Ridenour are dealing with noise, dust and dirt, because of an ongoing $21.3 million ODOT railroad underpass project that is right outside their door.
Cleveland City Council voted 15-3 to approve a the new four-year red light camera contract.
You never know when the power might go out, especially during severe weather. Waiting for it to come back on can be a guessing game, too. In this Angie’s List report, what you need to know about home generators.