US Representatives LaTourette, Fudge introduce legislation to fund home demolitions

Legislation hopes to create $4 billion in funds

CLEVELAND - U.S. Representatives Steven LaTourette (R-OH) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH) stood in front of two vacant homes on Cleveland's eastside, and unveiled the Restore our Neighborhoods Act of 2012.

The bipartisan legislation would create $4 billion in funds to help cities demolish thousands of vacant and abandoned homes, allowing states and established land banks to issue 30-year demolition bonds.

The Qualified Urban Demolition Bonds would be used for qualified demolition projects, with $2 billion divided equally among all states, and the other $2 billion issued to states like Ohio that have been hardest hit.

"It would be our goal to get the bill out of both the Senate and the House, and onto President Obama's desk by the July recess if we can," said LaTourette. "Our Ohio Senators are both on-board, so they'll take care of shepherding it in the Senate for us."

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge wasn't concerned about finding enough votes to get the bill passed.

"I'm going to get a clipboard and I'm going to put the bill on it," said Fudge. "I'm going to walk the bill around the floor, and say you need to sign onto this bill to save your communities."

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson praised the bipartisan legislation. "This is not a Democratic or Republican issue." "This is a people issue, and quality of life issue."

Jim Rokakis and the Western Reserve Land Conservancy played a major roll in the creation of the legislation.

"I'm convinced we can get this bill passed," said Rokakis. "Remember you can't build a new city until you tear down some of the old one."

Roberta Bryant lives on the street that hosted the news conference called by LaTourette and Fudge. Bryant is concerned about vacant homes in her neighborhood, but is optimistic the new legislation will help, if it's passed into law.

"I'm just hoping nobody sets these vacant homes on fire," said Bryant. "I'm scared somebody's child is going to get snatched into one of these houses."

"The legislation could make a big difference, and I could have some new neighbors," Bryant added with a laugh. "This bill can't be passed soon enough."

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

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.

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