PDT staff Writer
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said he will be attending a demolition in Adams County on Wednesday to promote his Demolition Grant Program. The Adams County demolition will allow for an expansion of the Adams County Heritage Center.
On Tuesday, DeWine announced that his Demolition Grant Program has surpassed 6,000 properties demolished. DeWine provided an update on the program as part of a keynote address at a neighborhood revitalization conference in Columbus, “Revitalizing Ohio’s Vacant Properties: Tools and Policies to Transform Communities,” sponsored by the Greater Ohio Policy Center and Thriving Communities Institute.
“The foreclosure crisis is not just about losing homes; it’s about losing entire communities,” DeWine said. “By tearing down houses, we are building neighborhoods. We are opening up land to stop the decline in property values, stimulate many types of economic development, and help our neighborhoods grow and prosper.”
Scioto County Commissioners Chairman Mike Crabtree said the total allotment for Scioto County and the city of Portsmouth was $278,000, with the county getting approximately $177,000 of that.
“(Deputy Clerk) Jenn (Kish) has about $6,000 left, and she’s got a place in mind, but she doesn’t know whether it’s going to come in cheap enough to do that,” Crabtree said. “That money has to go for that purpose. Some of those things, if they’ve got a lot of asbestos and lead, there’s things they have to do before they tear them down, and those things cost money. Six-thousand doesn’t buy you much now.”
The city’s demolition project faces financial decisions as well.
“I’m still spending the remaining amount. We have about $20,000 left that I have to spend,” Portsmouth City Community Development Director Tracy Shearer said. “The last three houses that I put out went over that. So my plan is to re-bid those out to see if they come in a little less to where I can have those three torn down. If they don’t come in to where I can have it done, then maybe I’ll just have to drop one of the houses.”
Announced by DeWine in February 2012, the Demolition Grant Program is designed to help stabilize and improve communities by removing blighted and abandoned homes with funds from the National Mortgage Settlement. DeWine set aside $75 million for demolition grants, allocating funds according to the percentage of foreclosures that occurred in each county from 2008 to 2010. Matching funds were required for all grant dollars greater than $500,000, and all 88 counties made grant allocation requests.
To date, the program has issued $28,407,415.44 in reimbursement grants for local demolitions. This has resulted in the demolition of 6,002 separately addressed properties, including 2,581 in Cuyahoga County, 559 in Lucas County, and 455 in Summit County.
Counties have until May 31, 2014 to use their initial allocations. To date, three counties have already completed use of their allocations: Fulton, Mercer, and Pickaway.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.