Morrow County and the Morrow County Land Reutilization Corporation commonly known as the county “Land Bank” announced today that they received a $625,000 grant from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, making it the largest local grant award for blight elimination to date.
“Blighted houses stick out as eyesores, drag down property values and pose safety hazards in their neighborhoods, and this generous grant will allow us to aggressively tackle blight in Morrow County,” said Dennis Leader, Morrow County Commissioner and Chairperson of the Morrow County Land Bank. “This grant will have an enormous impact on the efforts of the Land Bank and its partners, our Villages and our Townships, in continuing our collaborative efforts toward blight elimination and neighborhood revitalization.”
The $625,000 grant will be used to demolish houses scattered throughout Morrow County. The grant also allows for acquisition of houses not currently owned by the Land Bank that pose significant safety risks and are negatively impacting property values in their neighborhoods.
“We are eager to get started on these demolitions to tear down dilapidated houses that have been deemed beyond repair or rehabilitation,” said Shane Farnsworth, Executive Director of the Land Bank. “By tearing down decaying houses, we stabilize a neighborhood’s property values and improve the safety of our communities.”
“As County Treasurer and member of the Land Bank Board, I am proud of the Land Bank’s partnerships with the County and municipalities to address blight in creative ways,” said Tom Griffith. “Morrow County’s ability to receive this grant speaks volumes to the Land Bank’s outstanding potential and the state’s confidence in its effectiveness in helping our county create more vibrant places to live, work and play.”
“Studies indicate having a blighted and vacant structure within 500 feet of an owner-occupied residence negatively effects property values; thus increasing the risk of foreclosure,” commented Doug Garver, OHFA’s Executive Director. “As our land bank partners continue to eliminate these properties in neighborhoods, communities are experiencing the direct positive impact as a whole by providing safe spaces for children to play, community gardens and re-development.”
As with previous rounds, the maximum amount of assistance per property is $25,000, with an estimated average amount of assistance of $14,000. Nearly 4,000 blighted structures across Ohio have already been removed under this program.
OHFA is partnering with thirty-seven land banks across the state to focus blight elimination efforts in target areas where the demolition and greening of vacant homes will assist in preventing a further reduction in property values and the foreclosure of neighboring, occupied residential homes. Awardees are responsible for all aspects of the property acquisition and removal as well as plans for greening and ongoing maintenance of the property. The grant is intended for residential properties and may be used to demolish high-priority houses located throughout Morrow County. The grant is expected to run for a period of 18 months.
With the conclusion of the Fifth Round of Funding, the U.S. Department of the Treasury has now allocated a total of $762.3 million in Hardest Hit Funds to OHFA to administer the state’s foreclosure prevention programs.
For specific details of how HHF funds have been utilized in Ohio, please refer to http://treasury.gov/hhf.