Cleveland Council learns federal funds to demolish vacant homes could be on the way

Bill to be introduced by Congressman LaTourette

CLEVELAND - Former Treasurer Jim Rokakis spent more than a decade managing tax dollars for Cuyahoga County, and he also had 19 years as a member of Cleveland City Council.

On Tuesday, he used his experience to present details on a proposed federal measure that would create a badly needed funding source to demolish some 30,000 northeast Ohio structures that need to be taken down.

Rokakis introduced details of the proposed legislation to members of Cleveland's Community and Economic Development Committee at Cleveland City Hall.

The bill, which is soon to introduced by District 14 Congressman Steven LaTourette (R), would call for the selling of federal bonds. The bonds would generate funding for cities, allowing municipalities to more than double the money set aside for taking down blighted structures.

"It's conceivable Cleveland could raise $75 million to $90 million," said Rokakis. "Couple that with the mortgage settlement money to be released by the Ohio Attorney General, and we can remove most of the vacant properties from this community."

Rokakis is hoping the bill will be up for a vote this summer, with federal bonds issued by the beginning of 2013.

New figures released by the Case Western Reserve University NEO CANDO project revealed condemned properties have played a major role in reducing Cleveland property values by 50% since 2005.

In response, 5 On Your Side has invited residents to report vacant/condemned homes in their neighborhood through the NewsChannel5 Building Better Neighborhoods initiative. 

Residents are encouraged to send in pictures and information on distressed properties to our Troubleshooter Facebook or Twitter accounts @joeonyourside. Report a home using your smartphone and our free NewsChannel5  app.

If you're dealing with a vacant home in your neighborhood, use the Cleveland Housing Court Vacant Home Toolkit to guide you through the process of moving a vacant home to progress step-by-step.

Data compiled by NEO CANDO on the status of housing in northeast Ohio can be found on its website.

NewsChannel5 will bring you a series of reports and updates on the progress made through the Building Better Neighborhoods initiative throughout 2012.

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