CLEVELAND - Cleveland Councilman Tony Brancatelli traveled to Washington D.C., urging leaders to dramatically increase federal funding for home demolitions.
Brancatelli issued an eight-page report to U.S. Treasury officials that indicates it could take Cleveland 22 years and $4.5 billion to take down the condemned homes that need to come down, if additional funding isn't found.
"When you look at what it costs to board-up a home, what it costs to cut the lawns and maintain them, that's when you see the skyrocketing costs go up," said Brancatelli.
Brancatelli told NewsChannel5 it costs an average of $10,000 to take down a condemned home, and with the city's current budget, it can only take down about 600 houses a year.
"We need to take down these abandoned homes more quickly, so we can save millions in tax dollars, and restore property values," Brancatelli said. "We need to make sure this issue gets involved in both Presidential campaigns, and so far, we have not heard much about the housing debate out of either side."
Last year, Building Better Neighborhoods and NewsChannel5, reported on the introduction of federal legislation that would allow cities to issue $4 billion in bonds, to generate badly need demolition dollars. Thriving Communities Institute Director Jim Rokakis played a key role in the development of the measure and was also in attendance at the meetings in Washington D.C..
Rokakis is optimistic the bill will get approved in 2013, generating the funds needed to help take down 30,000 blighted structures here in the region.
"We were in the room with representatives from Senators offices from Michigan, Ohio, Delaware and Pennsylvania," Rokakis said. "We had other people in the room that understand the severity of this, so I'm optimistic, we just have to keep the heat on, that's all."
NewsChannel5 is committed to following the progress of this important piece of legislation.
Meanwhile, NewsChannel5 is also trying to spark volunteerism and help make a difference when it comes to vacant and condemned properties. We're inviting residents to report nuisance properties through our Building Better Neighborhood initiative .
Just send us pictures and information on vacant homes in your neighborhood and we'll forward the information to your city building department, in an effort to move the properties to progress.
We are also giving residents information on how they can volunteer in their neighborhoods to make them better.