TOLEDO, OH – (RealEstateRama) — Following a nearly $14 million award of federal funds for foreclosure prevention and blight removal in Lucas County, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) helped unveil a plan to renovate or demolish 1500 properties in 1500 days during a news conference in Toledo today. At the site of two homes owned by the Lucas County Land Bank, Brown – ranking member of the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee – joined U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-9), Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz, and community leaders.
“Today’s announcement is a win for Toledo neighborhoods, and will help communities across Lucas County as we continue to pick up the pieces from the recession,” Brown said. “When one home is foreclosed on or abandoned, it has a ripple effect that hurts the value of other homes in the neighborhood, attracts crime, and drags down the local economy. This federal investment will allow Lucas County to break that cycle by helping support the land bank’s work to renovate or demolish some 1,500 vacant properties over the next four years. Removing or renovating these abandoned houses will boost our local economy and help to make neighborhoods stronger and safer places to live and raise families.”
Earlier this month, the Lucas County Land Reutilization Corporation received $13.8 million through the Hardest Hit Fund Program, a portion of $191 million awarded to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA). The funding is part of a $2 billion investment that Brown secured in December to bolster the Hardest Hit Fund as part of the year-end government funding bill.
Brown helped secure more than $762 million in federal Hardest Hit Funds to address Ohio’s local housing issues and help Ohioans stay in their homes. As of June 30, 2015, more than $540 million has been spent on a variety of programs that help Ohioans stay in their homes, including direct assistance to borrowers and help for local housing counselors to assist homeowners. Of the more than 24,500 Ohioans who have received assistance to date, the overwhelming majority have been able to remain in their homes. Less than one-half of one percent of participants have lost their homes through a sheriff’s sale.
Brown has worked to strengthen the Hardest Hit Fund so Ohio can continue to benefit from the program. In July 2015, Brown helped strike a provision from a version of a transportation bill offered by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that would have rescinded millions in funds from the Hardest Hit Fund.
In 2013, Brown fought to ensure that Ohio communities could also use the Hardest Hit Fund to demolish vacant and abandoned properties. In March of that year, after urging from Brown, the Department of the Treasury approved OHFA’s proposal to use a portion of the state’s nearly $375 million remaining Hardest Hit Fund to demolish vacant and abandoned properties. This resulted in nearly $80 million in awards to Ohio land banks.
The Hardest Hit Fund was established in 2010 under the Recovery Act, using a one-time infusion of funds remaining in the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) passed in 2008. Ohio was not initially included in the program, but Brown made direct appeals to President Obama and then-Treasury Secretary Geithner to dedicate additional funds for this program. At the behest of Brown, the program, then called Hardest-Hit Housing Markets (4HM) program, was expanded in March 2010 to cover Ohio.
Lauren Kulik/Tamika Turner