COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Friday issued a report detailing the work of “The Ohio Attorney General’s Moving Ohio Forward” Demolition Grant Program.
The report shows the program, which concluded at the end of 2014, helped remove more than 14,000 abandoned and blighted housing units across Ohio.
“While the number of blighted structures we have removed is an impressive figure, the true success of this program is measured by its visible impact in the towns, on the streets, and through the lives it has touched,” DeWine said in a news release.
Locally, the program resulted in the demolition of more than 700 structures, including 308 housing units in Mahoning County, where the focus was on blighted properties near schools and active businesses.
“Somewhere where people would gather,” said Debora Flora, Executive Director at Mahoning County Land Bank. “Where the presence of that blight and abandonment would be even more troublesome.”
One of the program’s beneficiaries was James Skok, a Marine Corps veteran. Funds were used to demolish “a long-vacant and moldy home,” according to the program, on the site where Skok’s family purchased a new Habitat for Humanity home.
“You give a family a home, give them a good foundation, the sky’s the limit.” Skok said. “Find that way to accomplish the mission. Get these houses demolished. Get new houses in there.”
Here is a breakdown of the program numbers in the tri-county area, according to DeWine’s office:
State share: $557,823.00
County share: $32,766.38
Total funds used: $590,589.38
Structures razed: 72
Average demolition cost: $8,202.63
State share: $1,556,018.40
County share: $1,000,302.34
Total funds used: $2,556,320.74
Structures razed: 308
Average demolition cost: $8,299.74
State share: $1,388,088.00
County share: $823,774.32
Total funds used: $2,211,862.32
Structures razed: 374
Average demolition cost: $5,914.07
“We got a good price because we did a lot of volume,” said Matt Martin, executive director of Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership. “We have good relationships, and we tore down a lot of houses, so we were able to get a good price per demolition.”
DeWine announced the program in February 2012 shortly after the National Mortgage Settlement was finalized with 49 states and the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers. The settlement addressed robosigning abuses which worsened foreclosure issues during the recession. Affected borrowers received direct assistance in the form of cash payments, loan modifications, and reduced interest rates. States also received discretionary funds to help alleviate issues caused by foreclosure.
DeWine used the discretionary funds to create his Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Grant Program to benefit neighborhoods and communities which were also victims of the foreclosure crisis. The program dedicated $75 million of Ohio’s share of the settlement funds for the demolition of abandoned and blighted structures across the state. Each of Ohio’s 88 counties received a proportional allocation of the funds based upon the number of foreclosures in each county between 2008 and 2011. To maximize the reach of the program, counties were required to provide matching funds for any grant amount beyond the first $500,000.
The program, which concluded on Dec. 31, 2014, resulted in the demolition of more than 14,600 blighted housing units at an average cost of $8,148.75 per demolition. The program was able to dedicate more than $119 million toward blight demolition through both the program grants and matching funds.