CLEVELAND - It's a good news, bad news situation for Cuyahoga County housing.
The good news -- the foreclosure rate continues to drop in northeast Ohio, now below 900 a month.
The bad news -- the number of vacant homes continues to grow despite the lower foreclosure rate.
The latest data released by Case Western Reserve University and Northeast Ohio Community and Neighborhood Data for Organizing, or NEO CANDO , shows Cuyahoga County now peaking at 26,453 vacant homes.
A large part of the total comes from the city of Cleveland, which now has 15,755, according to information obtained from U.S. Postal Service records.
"The Suburbs hit the hardest by vacant homes are East Cleveland, Euclid and Parma," said NEO CANDO Information Director Michael Schramm. "These vacant houses can promote crime, and shrinking property values."
NewsChannel5 5 On Your Side Troubleshooter Joe Pagonakis took a tour of some of Cleveland's worst vacant homes with Council members Kevin Conwell and Brian Cummins.
"We have to constantly board up these homes," said Conwell. "Prostitutes go in these buildings and service their customers, and during the winter they set fires in these buildings. They can burn down an entire block."
Cleveland Councilman Brian Cummins isn't surprised the number of vacant homes are growing.
"Last week, we got reports of people getting into vacant homes, this is the second time we boarded up this house this winter," explained Cummins. "We really need residents to be our eyes and ears, and report changes in these vacant homes."
The entire NEO CANDO report on northeast Ohio vacant home rates can be found here: http://on.wews.com/W3GjHE
Meanwhile, NewsChannel5 is trying to encourage residents to report vacant homes, and promote better neighborhood communication, when it comes to dealing with 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. Those interested in starting a volunteer effort in their neighborhood should contact Hands on Northeast Ohio