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In a paper conducted for Harvard University, local researchers examined post-foreclosure transactions on 38,931 houses that were acquired from financial institutions. They found that "nearly one-third experienced a negative outcome: abandonment, condemnation, demolition or tax delinquency" and that those purchased by out-of-state investors were more likely to experience a negative outcome. A Plain Dealer editorial said that the "regulatory changes identified in the study should be implemented."

The Ohio Housing Finance Agency allocated $49.5 million in federal Hardest Hit Funds to 11 counties with established land banks. The Cuyahoga Land Bank received $10.1 million. Last year, the state obtained permission from the U.S. Treasury Department to use a portion of the foreclosure-prevention funding to demolish blighted properties. A Plain Dealer editorial called it "a smart investment in stabilizing neighborhoods."

Meanwhile, the Ohio Attorney General's office awarded an additional $3.8 million from the 2012 national mortgage settlement to support demolition programs in 87 counties. Cuyahoga County received $602,202. Counties must use the funding by the end of September.

In his final State of the County address, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald said that he "directed [his] staff to find an additional $50 million in bonding capacity to fund the most sweeping effort to not just demolish, but to demolish, protect, and restore our neighborhoods."

In addition, an Ohio coalition is seeking $200 million from a $13 billion federal mortgage-fraud settlement with J.P. Morgan Chase. The proposed Ohio Plan (PDF) would use $144 million to support demolition programs. A Plain Dealer editorial concluded that it "may be a long shot, but it's a shot."

The Cleveland Restoration Society, Cuyahoga County, and First Federal Lakewood partnered to expand the Heritage Home Purchase Program. The program, which began in South Euclid, offers assistance to potential homeowners in purchasing and rehabilitating houses built at least 50 years ago. Participants receive a home purchase loan, a home improvement loan, plus free technical assistance from the Restoration Society.

Recent research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland examined urban decline in Rust Belt cities, and included a closer exploration of the changes in Greater Cleveland. Another report from the Federal Reserve Bank offered an analysis of housing policy "areas that merit careful consideration in Ohio" and "identified some opportunities for Ohio to improve its ability to deal with foreclosed, vacant, and abandoned properties."

In its annual report on foreclosures, the Ohio Supreme Court said that foreclosure filings in Ohio decreased by 1.5% in 2012. In Cuyahoga County, the figure fell from 11,544 in 2011 to 11,427 in 2012, a 1.0% decrease, but still the largest number in the state. Policy Matters Ohio used the data in its annual foreclosure report. It said that "Ohio foreclosures remain at crisis levels" and that the "number of filings remained more than four times higher than it was in the mid-1990s." Meanwhile, Slate published an excerpt of Edward McClelland's Nothin' but Blue Skies about the origins of the foreclosure crisis in Cleveland's Slavic Village neighborhood.

The Housing Research & Advocacy Center issued two of its yearly reports. The 2013 State of Fair Housing in Northeast Ohio (PDF) said that 2012 was the fourth consecutive year with a decline in the number of housing discrimination complaints, but estimated "that there are annually at least 33,690 instances of housing discrimination" in Greater Cleveland. Its Racial & Ethnic Disparities in 2011 Ohio Mortgage Lending (PDF) report said that "African Americans and Hispanics continue to have limited access to fair and equal credit."

HUD reached a new nine-month agreement with the Cuyahoga Land Bank, and will continue to sell low-value houses to the Land Bank for $100. Late last year, HUD announced it would end the program, but Sherrod Brown helped facilitate its extension. Christopher Evans of The Plain Dealer visited a distressed HUD-owned house in Cleveland to highlight the importance of the partnership.

An ESOP summary of foreclosure rates reports that although the total number of foreclosure filings in Cuyahoga County declined in 2012, residential mortgage foreclosures rose from 9,405 in 2011 to 9,905 in 2012. It says that the 5.3% increase means that the "foreclosure crisis is still thriving in Cuyahoga County and many years from fully resolving." Meanwhile, new research from the Federal Reserve Bank said that mortgage delinquencies continue to decline in Ohio, while figures from the Mortgage Bankers Association indicated that levels remain elevated in Greater Cleveland.

Cleveland City Council voted to contribute $50,000 to a study designed to evaluate the relationship between foreclosure rates and housing demolition initiatives in Cuyahoga County. Richey Piiparinen described the need for the study, which is being championed by Jim Rokakis. Councilman Brian Cummins shared some of the City's housing strategies, and a Plain Dealer editorial said that a "plan to deal with the vacant and abandoned properties that crater Cleveland neighborhoods is long overdue."

Update: members of Greater Cleveland's Congressional delegation introduced legislation that would provide federal funding for housing demolition. A Plain Dealer editorial cheered the news.

Update 2: Researcher Richey Piiparinen said that "demolition and preservation are not mutually exclusive."

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development informed the Cuyahoga Land Bank that it would cancel a program that allowed the land bank to acquire low-value houses for $100 each. The agreement kept distressed housing away from flippers, but HUD says it can no longer afford the program. A Plain Dealer editorial denounced the decision, while the Northeast Shores Development Corp. urged residents to contact their congressional representatives.

In National Journal, George E. Condon Jr. examined how Cleveland's Slavic Village suffered from the foreclosure crisis and how officials are using targeted demolitions to help revive the neighborhood.

RTA's $237.6 million operating budget for 2013 includes a 5% service increase on its bus and rail lines. The growth follows a 4% increase in 2012. The agency issued new schedules for 29 bus routes and its rapid lines, and will resume weekday Waterfront Line service in May.

University Circle institutions relaunched the Greater Circle Living initiative, a program that provides incentives to employees who make their homes in University Circle and its surrounding neighborhoods. Participants are now eligible for increased financial assistance. The program began in 2008.

Update: University Circle Inc. issued a press release.

At a late-August press conference, Governor Kasich announced plans to employ a public-private partnership to build the second new Innerbelt Bridge in Cleveland. The Ohio Department of Transportation will seek an engineering, construction, and financing team for the $332 million project. The financing option has been used in 29 other states, but it's the first time Ohio has used it. The second bridge is now scheduled to built between 2014 and 2016, the project's original timeline. In January, ODOT said it work would not begin until 2023, and in June changed it to 2016. A Plain Dealer editorial called it promising news.

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Office's announced that 12 suburban communities will share $1 million of the $5 million the office committed as a local match for housing demolition funding from the national mortgage settlement. The communities receiving grants between $50,000 and $100,000 are Cleveland Heights, Euclid, Garfield Heights, Lakewood, Newburgh Heights, North Olmsted, North Royalton, Parma, Parma Heights, Shaker Heights, South Euclid, and Warrensville Heights.

The sixth report in the Paying More for the American Dream series "examines systemic inequities in the mortgage market" (PDF) in seven American cities, including Cleveland. It found that African-American and Latino homebuyers were significantly more likely to receive government-backed loans than white homebuyers. The government-backed loans are typically more expensive than conventional mortgages.

The U.S. Department of Justice reached a $175 million fair housing settlement with Wells Fargo Bank to resolve allegations that the bank discriminated against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers. The settlement includes $50 million to help neighborhoods in eight metropolitan areas with large numbers of discrimination victims, including Greater Cleveland. The area could receive more than $6 million.

The Cuyahoga Land Bank will provide $6.8 million and the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office committed $5 million as the local match for housing demolition funding from the national mortgage settlement.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says it "initiates a regional strategy that encourages collaboration and sets priorities."

The Civic Commons Radio Show explored the complexities of development financing in today's market, using the Flats East Bank and Uptown projects in Cleveland as examples. Developer Ari Maron also spoke about development financing at the recent Neighborhood Solutions Summit.

Under guidelines released by the Ohio Attorney General's office, Cuyahoga County is eligible to receive $11.85 million of the $75 million the office budgeted to assist communities in the demolition of abandoned houses. The funds will be awarded on August 1. A Plain Dealer editorial said that the Cuyahoga Land Bank is the "perfect entity to administer the demolition grant."

Policy Matters Ohio's annual analysis of foreclosure statistics says that while foreclosure filings in Ohio declined in 2011, the levels remain elevated. Cuyahoga County had both the largest number of filings and the highest rate of filings per capita.

Figures released by the Ohio Supreme Court show that foreclosure filings in Ohio decreased by 16.3% between 2010 and 2011. It was the second consecutive year with a decrease. Filings in Cuyahoga County fell from 12,825 in 2010 to 11,544 in 2011, a 10% drop.

In its yearly report on racial disparities in mortgage lending (PDF), the Housing Advocacy and Research Center found that "African Americans and Hispanics continue to have limited access to fair and equal credit" in Ohio and that they "faced higher denial rates and high-cost lending rates than whites."

Ohio will receive a $335 million share of the $25 billion federal settlement with mortgage companies, and Attorney General DeWine intends to set aside $75 million to demolish abandoned properties across the state. Cleveland and Cuyahoga County hope to receive at least $12.5 million from the fund. Former Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis, now head of the Thriving Communities Institute, is working with Representative LaTourette on legislation that would supply federal funding for additional demolitions. Rokakis advocated for the proposal in a recent Washington Post op-ed. Editorials in the Plain Dealer support both efforts, while the National League of Cities reflected on "the lessons that brought the country to this situation."

At its January 24 meeting, Cuyahoga County Council approved the establishment of a $100 million economic development fund. Creating the fund was one of County Executive FitzGerald's campaign promises. The County will use $5 million from the fund as loan guarantees, which will leverage an additional $100 million in small-business loans from seven area banks.

Policy Matters Ohio reported that Ohio housing foreclosure filings decreased slightly in 2010, but remained at historically high levels. Bill Callahan looked at the 2011 totals for Cuyahoga County, and noted that last year was the county's sixth consecutive year with over 10,000 foreclosure filings.

Despite a series of setbacks in court, the City of Cleveland continues to pursue its lawsuit against a group of major banks and mortgage companies.

Changing Gears looked at how the loss of a bank branch can impact a neighborhood, using Cleveland's Larchmere neighborhood and its closed Ohio Savings branch as an example.

A 60 Minutes segment looked at the impacts of the housing crisis in Cuyahoga County and at how local governments and residents are responding to foreclosures, abandonment, and underwater mortgages. The Plain Dealer's Brent Larkin also described the struggles. Rob Pitingolo said that exurban housing construction and regional population declines contributed to the problems.

Update: Businessweek also looked at the local housing market.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Brian J. Corrigan dismissed most of the City of Cleveland's lawsuit against 21 banks and mortgage companies.

Contributors to the New York Times Room for Debate offered opinions about the wisdom of demolishing distressed housing in cities like Cleveland.

The Cuyahoga County Land Bank continues to gather national attention, as the Washington Post explored the agency's approach to the foreclosure crisis.

Update: the newspaper also published an article on local deconstruction and salvage operations.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a report on the housing market in the five-county Cleveland metropolitan area. It says that "the housing market in Cleveland remains fragile (PDF) - with low property values, deeply-discounted foreclosed properties affecting neighborhood values, and many severely underwater mortgages."

Cuyahoga County Council did not vote on a proposal for a new funding formula for the Cuyahoga County Land Bank. Members want to wait until a dispute about the land bank's board composition is resolved.

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Shoreway Commerce Park, developer Mitchell Schneider said that the Cleveland industrial park may soon see an expansion. The redevelopment of the former White Motors plant received a variety of public financial incentives.

Officials with the Cuyahoga County Land Bank want to enhance its revenue stream by adding funding from delinquent property taxes. The change would need approval from County Council. County Executive Ed FitzGerald and Neighborhood Progress Inc. CEO Joel Ratner praised the land bank in a Plain Dealer op-ed, while NPR's Morning Edition and Time highlighted the land bank's activities.

A new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland says that in Cuyahoga County, "foreclosed homes go through more than a year of very high vacancy rates following the auction and are substantially more likely to be vacant up to 60 months after the foreclosure."

Parmatown Mall was placed in receivership at the request of its mortgage lender. The mall will be put up for sale. Mayor DePiero of Parma said that he remains cautiously optimistic (PDF) about the future of the mall.

Update: City officials have recommended redeveloping the mall.

The Plain Dealer visited Slavic Village to see how the neighborhood is dealing with abandoned and vacant homes, while the PBS Newshour reported on local efforts to demolish distressed housing.

Update: the PBS Newshour has a follow-up story.

Update 2: as Montgomery County sets up its new land bank, the Dayton Daily News examined the Cuyahoga County Land Bank.

Update 3: the Cincinnati Enquirer also looked at the Cuyahoga County Land Bank.

Two banks will donate vacant foreclosed properties to the Cuyahoga County Land Bank for demolition or rehabilitation. Wells Fargo has donated 26 properties so far and Bank of America will donate up to 100 properties. The banks will contribute $3,500 or $7,500 per property to cover demolition costs.

In the fifth report (PDF) in the Paying More for the American Dream series, a group of nonprofits examined mortgage refinance lending in seven metropolitan areas. In the five-county Greater Cleveland area, residents of neighborhoods with large minority populations were denied loans at a much higher rate than homeowners in predominantly white neighborhoods.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review Cleveland v. Ameriquest, the City of Cleveland's suit against 21 banks and mortgage lenders. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the City in 2010.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial praises "Cleveland officials for their ingenuity and then tenacity in continuing to push this case against the odds."

The Novogradac Journal of Tax Credits highlighted Cleveland's use of tax credit programs and other creative financing techniques to support downtown and neighborhood development.

(via Scott Suttell)

Following its $45 million investment in the Flats east bank project, the Cleveland International Fund is looking at financing the expansion of University Hospitals in University Circle.

After 15 years of increases, Ohio's foreclosure rate declined in 2010. There were 85,483 new foreclosure filings in 2010, down from the record-high 89,053 filings in 2009, a 4% decrease. Some of the drop can be attributed to the robo-signing moratorium. Filings in Cuyahoga County fell by 9.5% over the same period, but the county had 12,825 filings, the most of any Ohio county. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the "task to drive down the risk of foreclosure in Ohio is no less urgent than it has been the past decade."

A new report from the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at Case Western Reserve University examines bank walkaways and "stalled foreclosure cases in Cuyahoga County in order to describe the factors involved in delayed foreclosure cases."

The Wolstein Group and Fairmount Properties closed on their financing for the first phase of the Flats east bank development. Construction of the stalled $275 million project is expected to resume this week. It is supported by a complex package (PDF) of private and public financing and is scheduled to open in spring 2013.

Jim Rokakis, the outgoing Cuyahoga County Treasurer, was the sole guest on Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program. He talked about his work, his 33 years of public service, and the changes in county government. After leaving office, he may lead a new urban land institute at CSU's Levin College of Urban Affairs.

The Cleveland Housing Renewal Project and the City of Cleveland refiled their lawsuit against Deutsche Bank in a federal court. In addition, the amended filing now includes nine mortgage servicing companies.

An editorial in the Akron Beacon Journal chides the Ohio Senate for failing to pass foreclosure prevention legislation, and a second editorial urges Congress to fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will provide $32 million in loan guarantees for the planned Flats east bank project in Cleveland. The development is backed by private and public funding sources, including bonds from the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. Developers hope to close on their financing before the end of the year.

The City of Cleveland may adopt a new tactic for dealing with companies that purchase foreclosed houses in bulk and then neglect them. City officials are considering legal action against the company owners.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial addressed the subject.

Next American City presents the current status of a Neighborhood Progress Incorporated subsidiary's lawsuits against Wells Fargo and Deutsche Bank. Scene reports on the City of Cleveland's plans to appeal the latest ruling in its case against 21 banks.

A study by the U.S. General Accounting Office identified Ohio and Greater Cleveland as being among the areas that have experienced the most bank walkaways. It recommends that federal agencies should require mortgage servicers "to notify borrowers and communities when foreclosures are halted and to obtain updated valuations for selected properties before initiating foreclosure." Sherrod Brown said that the practice exacerbates neighborhood blight.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial called the report "a welcome first step, but still just a beginning."

Researchers at the Case Center for Reducing Health Disparities.are studying the impacts of foreclosures on residents who remained in neighborhoods with high foreclosure rates. Their work will focus on Cleveland's Detroit-Shoreway and Hough neighborhoods.

Inside Council summarized the City of Cleveland's as-yet unsuccessful nuisance lawsuit against 21 banks and mortgage providers. The City is appealing its most recent setback.

Data compiled by the Housing Research & Advocacy Center indicates that in 2008, Clevelanders received subprime mortgages at a rate more than twice the national average. They also found that minority homebuyers in Cuyahoga County are more likely to obtain high-interest mortgages than whites.

The Sixth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals overturned a decision by the Northern District Court of Ohio in the case of Cleveland Housing Renewal Project v. Deutsche Bank. The District Court had remanded the case to Cleveland Housing Court, and this new ruling (PDF) sends it back to the District Court.

Richard M. Todd of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis examined residential foreclosure trends for non-owner-occupied properties in Cuyahoga County. Building upon research conducted by Case Western Reserve University, he concluded that "the incidence of non-occupant foreclosures in Cuyahoga County was very high by national standards and was even higher for loans to minority borrowers made by non-local lenders in low-cost, low-income, minority neighborhoods" for loans originated in 2005–2006.

(via the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland)

At yesterday's Cleveland Housing Court hearing, three neighbors of a neglected house in Cleveland filed restitution claims. The City of Cleveland also filed a claim.

This morning, NPR's Morning Edition aired a report from Cleveland about Judge Pianka's plans to hold restitution hearings (PDF) for neighbors of neglected houses.

Cleveland Housing Court Judge Raymond Pianka intends to order owners of neglected properties to pay neighbors for financial losses caused by the distressed buildings. He plans to hold restitution hearings this month. A Plain Dealer editorial says that "Pianka risks overstepping the bounds of impartiality should he mix advocacy and judicial roles."

Update: Thursday's Sound of Ideas program looked at the restitutions and other strategies for combating neglect.

The City of Cleveland lost an appeal in its lawsuit against 21 banks and mortgage companies. The City sued the subprime lenders in 2008, charging that their activities led to the foreclosure crisis and created a public nuisance. A U.S. District Court judge dismissed the suit in 2009. Yesterday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court ruling (PDF), and said that Cleveland failed to prove that the banks were directly responsible for the damage to the neighborhoods. The City plans to appeal.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial encourages the city to continue.

In the first six months of 2010, foreclosure filings in Cuyahoga County increased by more than 12%, compared to the same period last year. Levels in Cleveland remained similar, while levels rose in both inner-ring and outer-ring suburbs.

The City of Parma is using its federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds to purchase and demolish an additional 14 houses. The City of Berea has also started demolishing distressed houses.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis said that the Cuyahoga County Land Bank is "the most effective and comprehensive program in the country to deal with vacant properties due to its entrepreneurial transactional capabilities and funding." Officials in South Euclid are pleased with the Land Bank's recent agreement with HUD. Next American City cited Cleveland's experience with HUD as an example of "the real danger of this newfound culture of thrift and austerity in Washington."

"Facing the Foreclosure Crisis in Greater Cleveland" (PDF, 29.7 MB) is a new report from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. It "spells out what happened here, relating the symptoms and progressive stages of the crisis as it played out across the region" and "points to representative examples of programs developed and implemented locally to address particular aspects of the crisis."

Huntington National Bank announced plans to invest $100 million in affordable housing developments across Ohio over the next 30 months. The funds are expected to leverage an additional $150 million.

After being criticized for ending a program with the City of Cleveland, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reached an agreement with the Cuyahoga County Land Bank. Under the new agreement, the land bank can acquire distressed HUD-owned houses for as little as $100. Officials with the land bank, which recently celebrated its first anniversary, anticipate that they will need to demolish at least 80% of the properties they purchase. Sherrod Brown praised the agreement, calling it "a victory for Cuyahoga County."

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial congratulates the land bank on its productive first year.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ended a program that allowed local governments and nonprofits to take control of foreclosed houses. Cleveland officials were surprised and disappointed by its termination, and Dennis Kucinich asked HUD to reverse its decision.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial is critical of HUD's actions.

Fortune highlighted the efforts of the Cuyahoga County Land Bank and similar initiatives in other cities to increase levels of urban greenspace.

Richard Herman believes that Cleveland leaders need to view the local immigrant community as a valuable resource when pursuing foreign direct investment. Meanwhile, a group of foreign investors committed $20 million to the Flats east bank project through the Cleveland International Fund.

Update: A Plain Dealer editorial says that the investment "is good news for Greater Cleveland -- on many fronts."

Judge Pianka of Cleveland Housing Court fined two South Carolina real estate companies more than $13 million for neglecting distressed houses in Cleveland. He fined Interstate Investment Group $11.9 million and Paramount Land Holdings more than $1 million.

Weekend Edition host Scott Simon examined how the foreclosure crisis has unfolded in Cleveland. He visited with Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis and Cleveland City Councilman Tony Brancatelli.

A Cuyahoga County appeals court overturned a Cleveland Housing Court decision that required Wells Fargo to repair or demolish distressed houses it owns before selling them. The court ruled (PDF) that the plaintiff had improperly taken contradictory positions in two different courts. The implications of the ruling are unclear.

A new multi-state report (PDF) by a coalition of seven organizations examined the lending patterns of four large national banks in seven metropolitan areas. It found that between 2006 and 2008, prime mortgage lending decreased disproportionately in minority neighborhoods. In Cleveland, prime purchase and refinance lending fell by 42.7% in predominately white neighborhoods and 68.5% in minority neighborhoods.

On Friday, Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis spoke at the City Club about foreclosure problems in Greater Cleveland (MP3, 52.5 MB) and the ways that the Cuyahoga County Land Bank is addressing the issues.

On Wednesday, Governor Strickland signed Substitute House Bill 313, the county land bank bill. A 2009 law established the Cuyahoga County Land Bank, and the new legislation will allow up to 41 additional counties to create and operate land banks. It will take effect in 90 days.

Last week, the Ohio General Assembly passed a bill that will revise the state's oil and gas drilling laws. Citizen activists were unsatisfied by the lack of consumer protections in the law, which did not return local control over drilling. The legislature also approved a bill that will allow more than 30 counties to establish land banks like the one in Cuyahoga County. Governor Strickland is expected to sign both bills.

Update: a Chagrin Solon Sun editorial says that the changes in the drilling law "don't go far enough in protecting residents from potential disasters."

Greater Ohio will relaunch the ReBuild Ohio program. The organization will "work to refocus ReBuild Ohio's efforts to address Ohio's growing vacant and abandoned property problem through state-level reforms". Participants discuss related issues at the ReBuild Ohio Vacant Property Forum.

A Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority committee recommended approval of $34.8 million in bonds for the Flats east bank project. The full board will consider the matter at its January 20th meeting.

Three local investors are purchasing and rehabilitating distressed houses in Cleveland's inner-ring suburbs. The partners have bought 38 houses since July.

The Ohio House overwhelmingly passed House Bill 313, which would permit 28 more Ohio counties to establish land banks. The bill now moves to the Ohio Senate as Senate Bill 188.

In a first-of-its-kind agreement, Fannie Mae will sell distressed houses to the Cuyahoga County Land Bank for $1. For each house deemed beyond repair, Fannie Mae will contribute $3,500 towards its demolition. The land bank will acquire the first 25 properties under the agreement later this month.

A Plain Dealer investigation concluded that Cleveland's efforts to increase home ownership inadvertently exacerbated the foreclosure crisis.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that "officials need to explain such an appalling lack of accountability."

In addition to proposed service reductions, RTA is pursuing cost-savings measures that include several methods of reducing utility expenses and reducing service levels for the final week of 2009. A Plain Dealer editorial says that the state and federal governments need to provide more financial support.

Local officials remain disenchanted with the way HUD manages its inventory of vacant houses. Earlier this month, HUD Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development Mercedes Marquez defended the department's practices in a Plain Dealer op-ed.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that "the problems could be resolved if HUD had open and frequent communication with cities and housing groups".

In order to balance its 2010 budget, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority proposed cutbacks of between 12% and 21% of current service levels. A 12% reduction would entail the discontinuation of all or most of 32 bus routes. RTA will hold eight public hearings in early January.

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners are expected to approve a funding mechanism for the new county land bank today. The land bank will also be the subject of the next event in the Levin College Forum's Building Our Future Beyond Foreclosure series. Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis and land bank president Gus Frangos will participate in the form on November 19.

Bipartisan legislation introduced in both houses of the Ohio General Assembly would authorize 28 more counties to organize a county land bank. The current statute, adopted earlier this year, applies only to Cuyahoga County.

Update: the Dayton Daily News offers additional information.

Rust Wire recapped the Levin College Forum event yesterday that featured author Alyssa Katz. The next Forum event on October 30 will be a panel discussion about interdisciplinary partnerships for infrastructure investments.

Cleveland City Council approved a financial package for the first phase of the Flats east bank development. The incentives include a $30 million loan, a revised TIF agreement, more bonds, and changes to earlier loan agreements.

Cleveland City Council approved a $2 million loan to the developers of the proposed aquarium at the Powerhouse in the Flats. Councilman Cummins cast the sole dissenting vote.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that the aquarium plans are interesting.

The next event in the Levin College Forum's Building Our Future Beyond Foreclosure series will be held on October 8 and is titled Reconsidering the American Dream. It will be a discussion of proposed federal housing policy reform, and author Alyssa Katz will give the keynote address.

American Public Media's Marketplace reported from Cleveland on two foreclosure-related topics. The first story followed up on a report issued earlier this year comparing foreclosures in Collinwood and Braddock, Pennsylvania. The second focused on the potential pitfalls of online real estate purchases.

Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis and Dan Moulthroup of WCPN described the new Cuyahoga County Land Bank on The Take Away.

The new Cuyahoga County Land Bank may acquire its first properties this week, and about 250 parcels by the end of the year. Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis thinks that it also can help prevent abandoned houses. The Land Bank's board adopted a new six-month business plan on Friday.

In spite of cutbacks and fare increases this year, RTA faces a possible $20 million deficit for 2010, which could force additional cuts in service. Transportation for America compiled the financial problems of public transit agencies across the country in a new report titled Stranded at the Station.

Update: RTA General Manager Joe Calabrese met with Cleveland City Council on Wednesday.

Over the last 10 years, the Housing Enhancement Loan Program has provided $103 million in low-interest loans to more that 7,500 Cuyahoga County homeowners.

The Ohio EPA's new Environmental Insurance Program (PDF) will provide discounted environmental insurance for the risks encountered in brownfield remediation.

The discussion on this morning's Sound of Ideas program on WCPN was about the impending service cuts and fare increases by RTA and other local public transit agencies. The City of Lakewood objects to the elimination of its community circulator route, and Cleveland City Council asked RTA leaders to reconsider their decision to end circulator service. RTA will hold a community meeting in each neighborhood served by a circulator.

Next American City summarized the current state of the lawsuit by the Cleveland Housing Renewal Project (a Neighborhood Progress, Inc. subsidiary) against Wells Fargo.

To help balance its 2009 budget, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority will eliminate its 12 community circulator routes and implement a 25¢ fare increase. RTA will also modify 12–15 other routes with low ridership. The fare increase will go into effect on September 1 and community circulator service will end on September 20. Transit agencies across the country are taking similar steps.

Update: RTA may adjust some of its bus routes to compensate for the loss of the circulators.

Michigan Radio looked at lessons that Detroit could learn from the Opportunity Homes program in Cleveland and from ESOP's foreclosure prevention actions.

(via Rust Wire)

In order to address its budget shortfall, RTA leaders are considering service cuts and fare increases. General Manager Joe Calabrese recommended eliminating the community circulators and instituting a temporary 25¢ fare increase. The agency's board held a special meeting last week, but did not reach a decision. The board's next scheduled meeting is on July 28. A Plain Dealer editorial says that RTA "has no choice but to look at some combination of fare increases and service cuts."

Developer Lou Frangos said he can revive the suspended redevelopment of the Ameritrust complex. He owns a stake in a property below a building in the downtown Cleveland complex.

RTA's budget projections (PDFs) indicate that the agency's sales tax collections will be $15 to $16 million less than anticipated. RTA ridership figures also fell in April and May after several years of increases. Officials attribute the drop to rising unemployment.

Judge Pianka of Cleveland Housing Court lifted his injunction against Wells Fargo Bank, and ordered it to post a $1 million bond if it wants to begin selling distressed houses it owns in Cleveland.

The City of Lakewood is using a combination of nuisance abatement techniques and federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program dollars to eliminate blighted structures.

The K&D Group dropped its plans to redevelop the Ameritrust complex, citing issues with prospective tenants. Last fall, Cuyahoga County extended the developer's deadline for completing the purchase, but K&D was unable to make the project work. The County intends to put the buildings at East 9th Street and Euclid Avenue on the market later this year or next year.

The board of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority unanimously voted to issue up to $150 million in bonds to enable the move of Eaton Corp. from downtown Cleveland to Beachwood.

On Thursday, Judge Pianka of Cleveland Housing Court issued a preliminary injunction against Wells Fargo Bank, ordering the bank to repair or demolish distressed houses it owns before it sells them. Wells Fargo is considering an appeal.

A Cincinnati Enquirer editorial says that the foreclosure reform measure passed by the Ohio House last month deserves fair consideration by the Ohio Senate.

(via ReBuild Ohio)

Valdis Krebs used network mapping to illustrate the connections between individuals and organizations involved in illegal house flipping in Slavic Village.

Local municipal officials welcome the new Cuyahoga County Land Bank, viewing it as a good tool for combating housing abandonment.

Eaton Corp. shared initial plans for its new headquarters at a Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority meeting yesterday. The plans include a 470,000-square-foot headquarters building and 220,400-square-foot parking garage. Eaton wants the Port Authority to agree to a complicated financing deal that would enable the company to move from downtown Cleveland to a 53-acre campus in the Beachwood portion of the Chagrin Highlands.

The Brookings Institution published "Addressing Ohio's Foreclosure Crisis: Taking the Next Steps," a paper by Alan Mallach. Greater Ohio issued a draft of the paper in April.

Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis and Budget Director Sandy Turk disagree sharply about the projected costs (PDF) of the new Cuyahoga County Land Bank.

Judge Pianka of Cleveland Housing Court issued a temporary restraining order against Wells Fargo Bank, ordering it to stop selling foreclosed houses in the City. It could prevent the bank from selling as many as 183 properties for up to 28 days. Cleveland Housing Renewal Project sued Wells Fargo in December, charging that the bank was dumping distressed properties that it owned in Cleveland.

Update: attorneys for Wells Fargo appeared in court to fight the restraining order.

The Ohio House passed House Bill 3 yesterday by a vote of 54 to 43. The foreclosure reform legislation now goes to the Ohio Senate, which is not expected to immediately consider the bill because members are concentrating on the state budget.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial supports the legislation.

A U.S. District Court judge dismissed the City of Cleveland's lawsuit against 21 large investment banks. The City sued the banks in January 2008, charging that the banks created a public nuisance through their subprime mortgage lending activities. Cleveland has appealed the ruling.

An Ohio House committee approved foreclosure reform legislation yesterday. Among the items in House Bill 3 is a six-month foreclosure moratorium. A provision that would have allowed judges to modify mortgage terms was removed from the bill. Representative Foley of Cleveland, the bill's sponsor, spoke with WTAM about it. The entire House may vote on the legislation next week.

GreenCityBlueLake and Cleveland Real Estate News have recaps of the "Beyond Foreclosure" event on Monday that featured author Alex Kotlowitz.

By a vote of 52-42, the Ohio House passed a bill that would give more rights to renters living in foreclosed properties. The bill now heads to the state Senate, and a Plain Dealer editorial urges the Senate to pass it.

A panel of mayors of inner-ring Cuyahoga County suburbs discussed the impacts of the foreclosure crisis (MP3, 51.6 MB) on their communities at the City Club on Wednesday. County Treasurer Jim Rokakis was the moderator.

Alex Kotlowitz, author of a recent New York Times article about the foreclosure crisis in Cleveland, will appear at the second event in the Levin College Forum's "Building Our Future Beyond Foreclosure" series on May 11. Registration for the event is free.

Local bloggers provided recaps of several recent events:

On Tuesday, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Board of Trustees awarded contracts for the construction of the new Puritas rapid transit station. A May groundbreaking is planned. General Manager Joe Calabrese also updated the board on the agency's projected budget shortfall.

Update: the Plain Dealer published more details about RTA's budget situation.

With the first event in the Levin College Forum's "Building our Future Beyond Foreclosure" series approaching, Kurt Karakul of the Third Federal Foundation and the Forum's Kathryn Hexter wrote a Plain Dealer op-ed about recovering from the foreclosure crisis. They noted that "we have an excellent opportunity to demonstrate how this historic community and, indeed, Cleveland itself, can reshape its future and once again become a progressive and dynamic community."

The story of a Lakewood house illustrates the difficulties in breaking the cycle of foreclosure and disrepair, as well as one possible solution.

Update: Susan Condon Love wrote more about the house.

Recent reports by Francisca Richter and Lisa Nelson of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland compared the way the foreclosure crisis has played out in Cleveland's North Collinwood neighborhood and the Pittsburgh borough of Braddock. Although the two areas look similar on paper, the foreclosure rate has been much higher in Collinwood. The difference may be attributable to the different regulatory environments of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Greater Ohio released a final draft of "Addressing Ohio's Foreclosure Crisis: Taking the next steps" (PDF), a new paper by Alan Mallach of the Brookings Institution. He identified seven objectives and 26 recommendations for state-level policy changes. The paper will be formally published by the Brookings Institution later this spring.

Larger than anticipated declines in sales tax revenue have led to a $12–13 million budget shortfall at RTA. If the agency cannot find $9 million to offset the losses, it will have to cut 200–300 jobs and reduce service by by 9–12%. General Manager Joe Calabrese has asked Ohio and NOACA officials for assistance, and is exploring ways to redirect federal stimulus funds. The agency is not considering further fare increases.

Policy Matters Ohio's annual foreclosure report says that the 85,782 new foreclosure filings in Ohio last year were a record high. Cuyahoga County had the most filings for the fourth consecutive year, but the number of filings in Cuyahoga County was 7.3% lower in 2008 than in 2007. The largest increases in foreclosure filings were in the state's rural counties.

In this month's issue of Next American City, Ariella Cohen writes about the recession's impacts on American cities, and uses Cleveland as an example of the challenges and opportunities facing municipal officials.

City View Center in Garfield Heights landed in receivership after owner City View Center LLC defaulted on its loan. The investor group purchased the troubled shopping center from the McGill Property Group in 2006 for a reported $100 million.

Update: the Plain Dealer described the situation as going "from fairy-tale development to nightmare".

The New York Times Magazine focused national attention on Cleveland with a feature about how the foreclosure crisis has disrupted life in Slavic Village. National and international media outlets have used the neighborhood to highlight the weight of the problem, and many expect that the repercussions experienced in Cleveland will soon be felt in cities across the country. The Plain Dealer, meanwhile, posted maps and databases of the more than 45,000 foreclosures in Cuyahoga County since January 2006, and published a story about the implications of low housing prices. While Cleveland neighborhoods no longer have the nation's highest foreclosure rate, Cuyahoga County remains in the top 35. Rust Wire has a photo essay of the impacts on Cleveland's St. Clair-Superior neighborhood.

Update: Charles Buki says that the New York Times article illustrates the need to rethink community development processes and reimagine cities.

The credit crunch has affected plans to build a 240-unit apartment complex on Center Ridge Road in Westlake. Developer Flaherty & Collins has been unable to obtain funding for the project, and their option to purchase the site next to Porter Public Library has expired. The company remains interested in building the apartments.

Governor Strickland signed the county land bank bill in a ceremony at Cleveland State University on Friday. The bill, which creates a two-year pilot program in Cuyahoga County, was passed by the Ohio legislature in December.

The Cleveland Heights Home Repair Resource Center will soon begin rehabilitating the first of 12 homes it plans to complete this year. The houses were acquired by the City from HUD, and will be sold when the renovations are finished. The City of Cleveland Heights also recently revised its downpayment assistance program.

Foreclosure statistics released by the Ohio Supreme Court show that Ohio experienced a record high number of foreclosures in 2008. It was the 13th consecutive year with an increase. However, the rate of increase slowed to 3.1%, the smallest figure in the 13-year period.

Democrats in the Ohio House have proposed foreclosure prevention legislation that includes a six-month foreclosure moratorium and would allow judges to rewrite mortgage terms when homeowners owe more than property is worth, among other provisions. A Morning Journal editorial says that the moratorium "makes sense in the current economic crisis."

Update: WKSU has additional reactions.

Prompted by a request from Councilman Brancatelli of Cleveland, George Voinovich asked the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to "demolish its condemned and distressed properties that it owns in Cleveland's Slavic Village and throughout the city." Carole Cohen has many questions about the suggestion.

Partners in the Opportunity Homes pilot project are going door-to-door in six Cleveland neighborhoods to help homeowners in high-risk mortgages. They intend to visit nearly 500 homes and hope to prevent 100 foreclosures per year.

Persisting Racial & Ethnic Disparities in Ohio Mortgage Lending, a new report from the Housing Research & Advocacy Center, found that upper-income African Americans in the state were denied home mortgages more often than low-income whites. It also found that they were more likely to receive high-cost subprime loans.

The tight credit market may prolong the mixed-use reconstruction of the north side of Cedar Center in South Euclid. The Coral Company, the project's developer, has modified its plans to include market-rate apartments in place of condominiums.

The Ohio Department of Transportation has begun considering whether to replace the state's gas tax with a mileage tax.

In a letter to Senator Voinovich, Cleveland City Councilman Tony Brancatelli asked area congresspersons to petition the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to demolish distressed properties that it owns in the City.

The poor economy is impacting area hospitals in different ways. It has not halted expansions by University Hospitals, Hillcrest Hospital, and the Lake Hospital System, but it has delayed construction by the Summa Heath System. The Cleveland Clinic plans to build health centers in Avon and Twinsburg, though it has not set time frames for construction.

The Washington Independent has more details about the Cleveland Housing Renewal Project's lawsuit against Deutsche Bank and Wells Fargo. The banks had the case moved to federal court, but the Housing Renewal Project is seeking to have the case sent back to Cleveland Housing Court.

Contractors that have worked on the Bridgeview Crossing shopping center in Garfield Heights filed about $9.5 million in liens against the property this month.

The Ohio House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the county land bank legislation on its final day of business last week, and the Ohio Senate concurred with the House version of the bill. The legislation was revised to so that it applies only to Cuyahoga County. Governor Strickland is expected to sign the bill, and Cuyahoga County officials hope to begin operating the land bank early next year.

RTA is counting on receiving a $5 million allocation from 2009 Ohio budget in order to avert further service cuts and fare increases. The agency is also considering entering the derivatives market in an attempt to stabilize its diesel fuel costs.

A subsidiary of Neighborhood Progress Incorporated is suing two banks in an attempt to prevent them from selling foreclosed houses at deflated prices. On Monday, Judge Pianka of Cleveland Housing Court issued a restraining order blocking the sale of 36 houses for at least 14 days.

The Ohio Senate approved the countywide land bank legislation on Wednesday. It now moves to the Ohio House, where a vote may be held next week.

Update: WKSU has more information.

Beyond REO, a new report from Case's Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development, tracked property transfers of Cuyahoga County houses following sheriff's sales. In 2005, 3.62% of these houses sold at extremely depressed prices. By June 2008, the proportion had grown to 42.26%. Many of these properties are in Cleveland's east side neighborhoods. The report identified the proposed countywide land banks as a potential method of returning distressed properties to productive use.

Meanwhile, a new policy discussion paper (PDF) from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland describes the countywide land bank legislation. In addition, University of Missouri - St. Louis Professor Todd Swanstrom compared the ways that Cleveland and St. Louis have responded to the foreclosure crisis (PDF).

McGill Properties wants to restructure the tax increment financing agreement for its Greenbriar Crossing development in Parma Heights, without which the company may be unable to proceed with construction.

The Bridgeview Crossing shopping center under construction in Garfield Heights continues to experience financial setbacks. In addition to the previously reported issues with the Lowe's store, Target has not closed on the purchase of 8.5 acres for its store. Port Authority bonds for the development are on hold.

A group of Greater Clevelanders traveled to Columbus yesterday to advocate for Senate Bill 353, the countywide land bank bill. Supporters hope that the Ohio legislature will approve the bill in this month's lame duck session.

Update: WCPN has more details.

Legislation for countywide land banks was the subject of discussion on this morning's Sound of Ideas program. Hearings on the proposal are expected to begin soon in the Ohio legislature. The program also examined the topic in November 2007.

Calling it "Greater Cleveland's last, best chance to end the foreclosure feeding frenzy that is consuming neighborhoods and eviscerating property values," a Plain Dealer editorial urges state and local officials to support countywide land bank legislation.

Update: Becky Gaylord feels that Cleveland needs "bold, strong action, such as creating a regional land bank."

Advertising agency Wyse will be the anchor tenant in the K&D Group's redevelopment of the 668 Euclid building in downtown Cleveland. The company signed a 10-year lease for 25,000 square feet on the building's ground floor. The K&D Group is also pursuing nontraditional financing for its planned redevelopment of the nearby Ameritrust complex, including investments from labor union pension funds.

The credit crunch has pushed back the debut of the Cleveland District of Design. Cleveland State's Ned Hill said that its launch is probably a year away.

Construction of the Flats east bank project was suspended today, because the credit crunch has created difficulties in securing private financing for the mixed-use development. The developers said that "they still intend to move forward with the project" (PDF), but did not identify a timeline for resuming work.

Update: WKSU, WCPN, and WTAM supply more details.

The credit crunch threatens to further slow the Cleveland Metropolitan School District's construction program. In addition, the Ohio School Facilities Commission has suggested enlarging an existing school instead of building a proposed west side reliever high school.

A protracted credit crunch could force delays or cancellations of proposed commercial developments in and around Cleveland, including downtown office towers, suburban retail developments, and mixed-use projects.

Opportunity Homes is a new $20 million public-private partnership designed to counter the effects of foreclosures in six Cleveland neighborhoods over the next three years. In its first year, the program aims to help 100 families avoid foreclosure, demolish 100 blighted houses, and rehabilitate 121 vacant homes.

The nationwide credit crunch has the potential to raise the price of the planned Cleveland Medical Mart and convention center by millions of dollars.

Summit County leaders are asking the County's 31 cities, villages, and townships to adopt a revenue sharing agreement. It calls for revenue sharing in cases where large employers move from one Summit County community to another, or when financial incentives are used to induce a relocation.

Because of the changing financial climate, developers of the Renaissance Park retail development in Strongsville opted to use traditional financing instead of the TIF package approved last year.

On Friday, the Coral Co. dropped its plans for the mixed-use Central Park development in Solon, citing the credit crunch and difficulties in obtaining financing. Solon officials will attempt to remove the rezoning issue for the development from the November ballot.

Update: Solon City Council rescinded the rezoning issue on Monday. It will still appear on the ballot, but votes will not be counted.

House flippers are turning to eBay in attempts to make quick profits.

On September 25, the Levin College Forum at CSU will host the first event in its Beyond Foreclosure series, a panel discussion titled "Small Scale Strategies that Work". It will "focus on small scale housing strategies and projects that are new, creative, environmentally sustainable and invigorating to the marketplace."

Developer profiled the efforts of five cities, including Cleveland, to revive neighborhoods damaged by foreclosures and abandonment. Some signs indicate that the housing market may be improving, as Greater Cleveland led the nation for home price gains in April and May.

(via Planetizen)

The City of Cleveland Heights will work with the nonprofit Home Repair Resource Center to rehabilitate vacant houses acquired through HUD's Dollar Homes initiative. City officials estimate that 40% of the 27 houses acquired or being acquired are beyond repair and will be demolished, but the remaining 60% will be refurbished.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority adopted a development-finance policy yesterday. The new policy deemphasizes funding for retail developments and encourages investments with regional impacts.

On Friday, Bill Moyers Journal recounted the story of the foreclosure crisis in Cleveland, focusing on the problems in Slavic Village. Video, audio (MP3, 17.9 MB), and a transcript of the PBS broadcast are all available.

Enabling legislation for proposed countywide land banks was introduced in both branches of the Ohio Legislature yesterday. Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis has been promoting the concept since last year.

Update: WCPN has more information.

A Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority committee recommended narrowing the focus of its financing activities. If the strategy is approved by the full board, the Port Authority will shift its priority to providing financing for maritime, logistics, or distribution companies, and for businesses that will move to a proposed international trade district near the planned new port facilities. The Port Authority had previously promoted itself as a source of low-cost financing for a variety of developments.

This week's Free Times includes another look at the foreclosure crisis in Cleveland and its disproportional impacts on African Americans.

Pathways to Foreclosure, a new report from the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at Case Western Reserve University, says that subprime lending accounted for 84% of the foreclosures on home loans within Cuyahoga County in 2005 and 2006. It also says that lenders targeted African American borrowers and neighborhoods for subprime loans, similar to previous redlining problems. Meanwhile, today's Sound of Ideas show discussed a report released last week that detailed the impacts of foreclosures on renters.

While the Lakewood City Schools planned to build or renovate seven elementary schools in its school construction program, the Ohio School Facilities Commission will only commit to funds for six, citing projected declines in enrollment. The District will form a task force to determine if residents want to independently fund construction of the seventh school.

One of the side effects of the foreclosure crisis is an increase in overgrown lawns, which has forced local municipalities to spend money and time on maintaining the vacant properties.

Yesterday, the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity of the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services held a field hearing in Cleveland about the foreclosure crisis. Committee chairwoman Maxine Waters led the nearly five hour meeting, which was also attended by five members of Ohio's congressional delegation. Recent stories about Cleveland in the national media have drawn attention to the issue, and the Plain Dealer used East 144th Street in Mount Pleasant as an example of the impacts of foreclosures.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the subcommittee's Cleveland appearance "reflects the severe financial and social repercussions across the country."

Arsonists have burned 98 vacant homes in Cleveland this year. Last year, there were fires at 231 vacant homes in the City. Investigators believe that some of the blazes are tied to mortgage or insurance fraud.

The City of Bedford completed the renovation of two HUD homes, and will sell them later this month through a sealed bid process. The city is also working on five other HUD homes that it has acquired.

Audio of Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis's (MP3, 26.1 MB) recent talk about the foreclosure crisis and the proposed countywide land bank is now available from the City Club.

The K&D Group completed its purchase of the 668 Euclid building on Friday. The conversion of the building to about 240 apartments and 65,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space could be finished by early 2010.

On Wednesday, Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis told a City Club audience that he is confident that state legislators will pass a law that will enable urban counties to create land banks.

On Friday, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority voted to issue $40 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Bridgeview Crossing shopping center in Garfield Heights. Some hope that the new center will create a regional draw when it is added to nearby retail development. Critics of the decision say that the Port Authority should not be subsidizing retail developments.

Leaders in Summit County are preparing a plan for a countywide revenue sharing program. Summit County Executive Russ Pry discussed the idea with a group of Summit County mayors yesterday.

WCPN concluded its series on the foreclosure crisis with reports on the roles of Fannie Mae and HUD in the crisis and possible solutions to the problem.

WCPN continued its foreclosure crisis coverage with a report on the problems it has created in Cuyahoga County's outer ring suburbs and a discussion of the issues on this morning's Sound of Ideas program. In the Plain Dealer, Cleveland Chief of Regional Development Chris Warren wrote about the Jackson administration's approach to dealing with the foreclosure crisis and abandoned houses.

The Greater Circle Living program was officially launched today. The initiative will supply forgivable loans and rental reimbursements to an estimated 700 homebuyers in portions of seven adjacent neighborhoods in Cleveland and East Cleveland.

This week, WCPN is airing a series of reports about the foreclosure crisis. Yesterday's piece was an examination of the practice of purchasing Cleveland homes in bulk, and today's was a look at the impact of foreclosures in inner-ring suburbs.

Euclid City Council authorized the purchase of houses from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for $1 each. The City will turn the houses over to Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland for rehabilitation and resale. If the houses are beyond repair, the City will demolish them.

Cleveland State University professor Alan Weinstein was interviewed on the American Planning Association's podcast (MP3, 13 MB) about the impacts of the foreclosure crisis on urban planning.

In its annual foreclosure report, Policy Matters Ohio said that although "foreclosure filings are still more heavily concentrated in urban counties, greater growth is occurring in outlying areas." Foreclosure filings in Ohio rose by 6.7% in 2007, but increased by 22.3% in Lake County, 21.4% in Geauga County, and 17.8% in Medina County.

The City of Euclid and Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland may purchase up to 17 foreclosed homes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and refurbish them for resale.

Anecdotal data indicates that locally, the foreclosure rate is increasing more quickly in the outer-ring suburbs than in Cleveland or its mature suburbs.

Several large foundations are considering programs to address the foreclosure crisis, and may fund projects in Cleveland.

Representatives of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama attended Cleveland City Council's Fighting Foreclosure Forum yesterday. Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland also announced that it received $600,000 to advertise and to hire more counselors.

Over a dozen out-of-state investment companies that specialize in reselling foreclosed homes are operating in Cleveland. They purchase properties in bulk from banks and then sell the houses without making improvements. The proposed countywide land bank is intended to keep homes out of the hands of speculators.

Alphonso Jackson, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, presented a speech titled "Homeownership and America's Future" at the City Club on Friday. His talk is available as a podcast (MP3, 52.8 MB).

$60 Million and Counting (executive summary, 0.6 MB PDF; complete report, 20.2 MB PDF), a new report from ReBuild Ohio and Community Research Partners, says that abandoned homes cost eight diverse Ohio cities $64 million per year and cost Cleveland $35.5 million per year. The total statewide cost may be ten times greater.

Roldo Bartimole objects to the public subsidization of private downtown developments, using the incentives earmarked for the rehabilitation the 668 Euclid complex as an example.

RealtyTrac reports that at 2.97%, the Cleveland metropolitan area had the nation's sixth-highest foreclosure rate in 2007. That's up from the area's 2.5% foreclosure rate in 2006, when it was ranked 14th. Detroit topped the list in both years.

On Friday, Wells Fargo Bank asked a federal judge to dismiss the City of Cleveland's lawsuit against 21 major investment banks.

The only Ohio ZIP code on the list of the list of 100 worst hit in December by the foreclosure crisis was 44105, the area around Slavic Village. It was ranked number 51. Last June, it topped the list.

(via Crain's Cleveland Business)

The Plain Dealer's Becky Gaylord suggests five steps that "could prevent another community-wide foreclosure crisis from ever exploding again."

Cleveland officials proposed offering $5.1 million in loans to the K&D Group for the redevelopment of the 668 Euclid complex, in addition to other incentives. Cleveland City Council may vote on the proposal as early as Monday.

Update: City Council unanimously approved the loan.

RealtyTrac reports that nationwide foreclosure filings increased by 75% in 2007. In Ohio, the number of filings rose by 88%.

A bill introduced in the Ohio Sentate yesterday is aimed at expediting the foreclosure process for abandoned houses. Another bill introduced yesterday would allow cities to establish local programs similar to the statewide Clean Ohio Fund. Mayor Coleman of Columbus hopes to use the latter bill to create the Clean Columbus Fund (PDF).

This week, the Plain Dealer is publishing a series on Cleveland's foreclosure crisis. The series includes articles, slideshows, graphics, and databases. However, Bill Callahan feels that the investigation is overlooking an important question.

The City of Cleveland's foreclosure lawsuit against 21 large investment banks was moved to federal court after lawyers from Lehman Brothers argued that Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court lacked jurisdiction. Attorneys for the City have filed to bring the case back to Common Pleas Court.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that Cleveland leaders must support a countywide land bank to help counter the "devastating impact on local property values" caused by the foreclosure crisis.

Foreclosure and Beyond, a new report from Case Western Reserve University's Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development concluded that rising rates of foreclosure are having a detrimental effect on home values in Cuyahoga County. It suggests that "greater efforts are required to protect the growing number of vacant homes and limit spillover effects to surrounding properties" and that "policies are needed that can speed the movement of these foreclosed homes into the hands of home owners or landlords who can occupy and maintain the properties."

The City of Cleveland announced yesterday that it was suing 21 major investment banks that "financed and cultivated the sub-prime market." Law Director Robert Triozzi said that the banks trigged the foreclosure crisis in Cleveland by creating a market for mortgage-backed securities based on subprime lending "even though they knew full well that this was not an appropriate market for this activity." The City is charging (PDF) the banks with violating Ohio's public nuisance law and hopes to recover hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

Update: the New York Times also reported on the case, which could inspire similar lawsuits from other cities.

Attorney Pam Hanover, the City of Solon's bond counsel, provided advice to City Council's Finance Committee about preparing for the proposed mixed-use developments and a possible TIF.

The Plain Dealer's Becky Gaylord examined the Genesee County Land Bank in Michigan and how a similar land bank proposed for Cuyahoga County could help Cleveland.

Yesterday, the Ohio House passed House Bill 138, which would require county sheriffs to promptly file deeds after foreclosure sales. The bill is intended to eliminate the practice of postponing legal responsibility for a foreclosed property by delaying the deed filing.

A combination of several factors have put the City of Cleveland near its debt ceiling, which could prevent the City from borrowing additional money and impact major planned projects. Mayor Jackson proposed allowing early discounted repayments of UDAG loans, an idea that has been controversial in the past.

A new report (PDF) prepared for the U.S. Conference of Mayors enumerates the negative effects of the foreclosure crisis on cities' gross metropolitan products. The report's authors say that 2008 should be "no worse than 2007" for Cleveland. Meanwhile, figures from RealtyTrac show that there were 94% more foreclosure filings in Ohio in October 2007 than in October 2006.

The City of Cleveland will withdraw millions of dollars in deposits from JP Morgan Chase, because the bank scored poorly on the City's review of community reinvestment practices. A Plain Dealer editorial says that Cleveland must continue to monitor banks and that City Council should also update the review process.

In a three-part series, the News-Herald examined the state of the Greater Cleveland housing market.

Shaker Heights officials say that the main role the City can play in the foreclosure crisis is to protect neighborhoods from the effects of foreclosure.

Data released yesterday by RealtyTrac says that the Cleveland metropolitan area experienced the nation's seventh-highest foreclosure rate during the third quarter of 2007. Meanwhile, a Plain Dealer editorial says that Governor Strickland's proposed foreclosure prevention plan is "moderate and responsible" and that the "state must act to slow this foreclosure crisis, which threatens to push Ohio's economy into a downward spiral."

This morning's Sound of Ideas on WCPN was devoted to a discussion of the proposed countywide land bank. The show's guests were Genesee County, Michigan Treasurer Dan Kildee, Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis, and Cleveland Councilman Tony Brancatelli. Bill Callahan shared his reactions.

Since no lenders signed on to Governor Strickland's proposed foreclosure prevention compact, yesterday he proposed tighter regulation of the mortgage industry. Attorney General Dann will file subpoenas (PDF) regarding possible violations of antitrust, civil rights, and consumer sales practice laws.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that the proposed countywide land bank has the potential to "provide the heft needed to break the cycle of speculation, default and foreclosure".

The BBC used Cleveland to illustrate the foreclosure crisis in the United States, devoting a detailed BBC News article and an episode of This World to the subject.

(via Foreclosing Cleveland and cleveoh)

The City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County may form a joint agency that would buy abandoned houses and keep them away from real estate speculators. The role of the proposed countywide land bank will be identified in a new study.

Last week, Bill Callahan launched Foreclosing Cleveland, a new weblog focused on the foreclosure crisis in Cleveland. It's intended to "document this ongoing civic disaster, its perpetrators, its consequences, and the efforts of Cleveland's people to overcome them."

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development sold the mortgage on the West Tech Lofts to a Philadelphia real estate firm. Representatives of the company will meet with the property's owners to decide their next steps.

Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis answered questions from Washington Post readers about his recent piece on the foreclosure crisis. The Economist also looked at the crisis in Maple Heights, describing it as "a community in collapse."

(via Callahan's Cleveland Diary)

Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis, American City & County's County Leader of the Year, wrote an op-ed about the foreclosure crisis that appeared in Sunday's Washington Post. It begins, "Let me tell you about a place called Slavic Village and the death of a girl named Cookie Thomas. You've never heard this story before -- talk of housing markets and hedge funds, interest rates and the Federal Reserve has drowned it out."

As Ohio remains among the states with the highest foreclosure rates, Britain's The Guardian examined the impacts of the foreclosure crisis on Cleveland. The Free Times also continued its foreclosure coverage with a look at the work of the East Side Organizing Project. In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Cleveland State professor Kathleen Engel says that "Cleveland cannot afford to wait for federal solutions to the subprime problems that are dogging the city."

The Ohio Foreclosure Task Force has published its recommendations for addressing the statewide foreclosure crisis as a final report (PDF) that includes tasking the State with spending $2 million for immediate efforts, among other proposals. The report also views the possible aftermath of the mortgage meltdown, including the possibility of assessing whether some neighborhoods should remain residential.

Meanwhile, a recent study by the Mortgage Bankers Association shows that current foreclosure rates are the highest on record, with Ohio, exacerbated by subprime lending and increased job losses, posting the highest levels seen in their surveys. These rates may be levelling off, but predominately-black neighborhoods, with homebuyers who are systematically-charged higher interest rates than white borrowers, may endure an even rougher future.

The New York Times took a close look at how the foreclosure crisis is harming Maple Heights, describing it as the epicenter of subprime mortgage meltdown.

Monday's presentation of a report on foreclosure trends in Shaker Heights was well attended. Meanwhile, Strathavon Road residents are troubled by the impact of the foreclosure crisis on their neighborhood.

The Ohio Foreclosure Prevention Task Force refined its recommendations at its meeting on Monday, and is expected to adopt them in two weeks. The suggestions include providing $50 million to help communities with planning, and targeting money to cities that prioritize neighborhood redevelopment over assisting scattered property owners.

A new report from Policy Matters Ohio says that foreclosures in suburban Cuyahoga County were about 17% higher in the first half of 2007 than in the first half of 2006. Foreclosures in Cleveland rose by 5%.

Subcommittees of the Ohio Foreclosure Prevention Task Force are recommending that the State provide $50 million in funding to demolish or rehabilitate abandoned and foreclosed homes and $10 million to establish counseling for homeowners to prevent additional foreclosures. The Task Force will reconvene on August 27th to finalize recommendations to Governor Ted Strickland.

The Sun Press explored the foreclosure crisis in Shaker Heights with a look at the correlation between race and foreclosure rates and a summary of a new report by a pair of Harvard researchers. The new report, titled "Understanding Mortgage Foreclosure Trends in Shaker Heights, Ohio" (PDF), will be presented on Aug. 27 at 7:30 p.m. in City Hall.

Michael Schramm and Claudia Coulton of Case's Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences examined the impacts of the foreclosure crisis on the number of houses and condominiums in Cuyahoga County owned by financial institutions. As of February 2007, 9,175 of these properties are held by financial institutions, representing 2.05% of the County's residential properties. The highest percentage was in East Cleveland, where financial institutions own 8.09% of the houses and condominiums.

While community leaders continue to struggle with the ongoing foreclosure crisis, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners approved a new $3 million program aimed at keeping houses out of foreclosure. Half of the program will offer no-interest loans of up to $3,000 to nearly 500 homeowners threatened with foreclosure. The other half will supply $1 million to the City of Cleveland and $500,00 to 15 older suburbs for the demolition or renovation of abandoned houses.

The Free Times concludes its series on the foreclosure crisis with a look at the history of predatory lending legislation in the state and federal legislatures.

The City of Cleveland is trying to recover a $700,000 loan from financially troubled Ameri-Con Homes. The company defaulted on the loan after a fire destroyed a part of the Ashbury Towers development. The Stockyard Redevelopment Organization is trying to find another developer to complete the redevelopment of the former Joseph & Feiss factory site.

Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis is developing a plan to offer $3,000 loans to homeowners who are trying to avoid foreclosure. He hopes to have the program established by August.

In the third article in their series on the foreclosure crisis, the Free Times explores the tactics used by government attorneys in predatory lending investigations, as well as the statistics indicating that minority populations are targeted by predatory lenders.

The foreclosure crisis was the topic of this morning's Sound of Ideas show on WCPN. The guests were Doug Duncan of the Mortgage Bankers Association and Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis.

The City of Brook Park is caring for abandoned and foreclosed homes by hiring a contractor to mow the lawns at some of the community's 30 abandoned houses and the 180 homes in foreclosure.

Foreclosure filings in Ohio continue to outpace last year's figures. Filings in Cuyahoga County are up 14% from last year, and Ohio's foreclosure rate is almost triple the national average. Bill Callahan offers his analysis and additional data.

RealtyTrac released foreclosure figures by ZIP code for a three month period ending June 15, and several Cuyahoga County areas were at or near the top of the list. The 44105 ZIP code (the Slavic Village area) had the highest number of foreclosure filings in the nation, 44112 (East Cleveland/Euclid-Green) was ranked 11th, 44108 (Glenville/Forest Hills) was ranked 20th, and 44120 (Buckeye-Shaker/Mt. Pleasant/Shaker Heights) was ranked 21st. ACORN published a series of reports titled "Home Insecurity" that present the data in more detail.

In the first article in a series, the Free Times looks at the nationwide foreclosure crisis and its detrimental impacts on Slavic Village, which is "perhaps the epicenter of a nationwide foreclosure epidemic."

Because the Ohio Housing Finance Agency plans to sell loans from its Opportunity Loan Refinance Program in the secondary market, it established very strict rules for applicants.

Foreclosure filings in Ohio and the rest of the nation increased again last month. Ohio saw 13,214 foreclosure filings in May, an increase of 16% from April and of 150% from May 2006.

Foreclosure crisis roundup:

Dimensions of Ohio's Foreclosure Crisis (PDF), a new report from the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, says that 73% of subprime loans in the state were made in middle and upper income areas.

Yesterday, the Ohio Senate unanimously approved Governor Strickland's $7.8 billion two year transportation bill, without the controversial earmarks inserted by the Ohio House. The Ohio House later agreed to support the Senate version of the bill.

Greater Cleveland's foreclosure crisis attracted the attention of the national media. Last week, the Chicago Tribune explored the problem in several Cleveland neighborhoods, and the New York Times examined its impacts on Cleveland's inner-ring suburbs.

Meanwhile, Policy Matters Ohio released their annual foreclosure analysis, and reported that there were 79,072 foreclosure filings in the state last year, an increase of 23.6% over 2005 figures. Cuyahoga County again had the largest number of filings, 13,610 new cases, up 24.5%.

(Update: WKSU has more details.)

Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis testified about predatory lending and foreclosures before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Domestic Policy. "The damage has been enormous, but sadly, the news of the past few months convinces me that the worst is yet to come." Inez Killingsworth of the East Side Organizing Project also testified.

Some local housing experts fear that the tighter lending policies that have followed the subprime lending collapse will cause a housing glut in Northeast Ohio, when combined with the foreclosure crisis and new housing construction.

The Ohio House approved Governor Strickland's $7.8 billion two year transportation budget, but made several changes, including earmarking revenues from the Commercial Activities Tax on gasoline sales for highway projects, and eliminating Strickland's proposal to prioritize road projects that promote economic development. The bill now moves to the Ohio Senate. Strickland vowed to use a line-item veto on the tax provision. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that House Republicans are trying to curry favor with the transportation industry.

The State of Ohio will begin offering 30-year, fixed-rate refinancing deals to people who are unable to afford their current mortgages. The program aimed at reducing foreclosures will be administered by the newly-created Foreclosure Prevention Task Force. A Plain Dealer editorial says that the efforts are desperately needed.

Cleveland officials acknowledged that there are errors in their initial ranking of banks. They will meet with bank executives over the next several weeks to discuss the rankings, and Cleveland City Council may revise the community reinvestment law. A Plain Dealer editorial calls the rankings stale, poorly designed, and inconsistent.

The City of Cleveland will reallocate its deposits among area banks based on City-assigned rankings of how well they meet the needs of residents and businesses. The rankings will be used for one year.

Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann won approval from the Ohio Controlling Board to hire seven people to staff the predatory lending task force headquartered in Cleveland. The positions are for three lawyers, three investigators, and a clerk.

RealtyTrac reports that foreclosure remains a major problem in Ohio and Greater Cleveland. As of January, the state had the nation's 7th-highest foreclosure rate, up 2.85% from a year ago, and the metropolitan area had the 14th-highest rate.

Mayor Zanotti of Parma Heights wants City Council to pass legislation that would allow the City to repair the exteriors of abandoned homes that are in foreclosure. The cost of repairs would be assessed to the property owner.

The Plain Dealer's Becky Gaylord assesses the impacts of the Ohio foreclosure crisis on Greater Cleveland's economy. Predatory lending and foreclosures have resulted in significant expenses for local governments, reduced property values, abandoned homes, and can drive residents from cities.

The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that once again, Ohio posted the nation's highest forclosure rate, with 3.32% of houses in the state in foreclosure, up slightly from last year. The national average was 1.05%.

Cuyahoga County prosecutors marked the start of a crackdown on mortgage fraud and predatory lending with a grand jury indictment of 59 defendants on charges of racketeering, forgery, and theft. Another 11 were indicted today.

(Update: The Plain Dealer published another story and an editorial on the subject.)

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