PDT Staff Writer
Scioto County, in cooperation with the Portsmouth City Health Department, has been informed they will receive $277,450 for a state program to help demolish blighted and abandoned properties.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said funds for the program are coming from the national mortgage settlement reached earlier this year.
The total amount of funding available to each county is based on the percentage of foreclosure filings in each county between 2008 and 2011 (which is the time period of the settlement agreement) divided by the total amount of funding ($75 million). The grants will be awarded Aug. 1. Funds will remain dedicated to a county until Dec. 31, 2013, the end of the first grant application period. The funds may be reallocated if no application is submitted or if funds remain unspent on eligible reimbursement projects. The Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Program requires that a lead entity, such as a land bank or local government, apply for the funds on behalf of each county in Ohio.
“We were the first ones in the state to apply for it,” said Fritz Leighty, Scioto County Community Development Consultant. He said the county will split the money with Portsmouth.
Leighty said the county will use their portion to continue to tear down houses in New Boston and West Portsmouth, where they have already been demolishing structures under the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). Leighty said the county has already taken down 56 units, 50 of those structures in New Boston. Leighty said with that funding, the county expects to be able to take down 15 structures and that 15 to 16 structures can probably be taken down in Portsmouth.
“The village of New Boston and West Portsmouth have given us lists mainly for the application. That doesn’t mean we will actually take those down, but that’s where we will start,” Leighty said. “We’ve got to do the EPA asbestos work. Before that, we were getting stuff down for $2,000, $3,000, $4,000 max. Now you have to have the asbestos testing and abatement is you find it, and that just jacks up the cost.”
Although an exact total of abandoned homes is not available, conservative estimates place the number of vacant and abandoned properties in Ohio in need of immediate demolition at 100,000.
DeWine said a goal of the Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Program is to maximize the number of demolitions of blighted and abandoned residential properties.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.