CLEVELAND - Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason is the latest northeast Ohio leader to contribute significant money toward solving the growing problem of vacant and condemned homes.
During a news conference Mason announced his office will issue $5 million from its delinquent tax assessment fund toward tearing down condemned homes in Cleveland, East Cleveland and 11 other surrounding suburbs.
Mason made the announcement from the Circle East development project, a new 24 unit condo complex that is being built in the heart of East Cleveland.
"Northeast Ohio has 27,000 vacant structures, 16,000 in Cleveland alone. Many of these homes need to come down," Mason said. "We hope that assisting cities like East Cleveland, and their strategic demolition plan, that in a short time these streets will begin to look like the streets and neighborhoods of any other urban area."
East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton was extremely pleased with the infusion of new demolition dollars that will help his community continue with projects like the Circle East construction.
"This was a parking lot, this was blight, but now it's the start of the Circle East Community," said Norton. "The land bank hand a hand in this, now the prosecutor has a hand in this, projects like this should spring-up throughout this area."
The Cuyahoga County Land Bank, and director Gus Frangos, will also contribute an additional $6.8 million for demolition. Those funds, added to matching money promised by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, means northeast Ohio will have a total of $23.6 million to take down condemned structures that can't be saved.
Frangos believes property values will go up and crime will be reduced once thousands of homes are taken down, and the land is redeveloped.
Frangos pointed to Circle East a classic re-use of land. The complex is set to open on July 1, and all 24 units have already been leased.
Meanwhile, NewsChannel5 invites residents to take action by volunteering, and reporting vacant/condemned homes through its 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.
NewsChannel5 will bring you a series of reports and updates on the progress made through the Building Better Neighborhoods initiative throughout 2012.