Cities and communities are looking for ways to effectively deal with the large number of foreclosures that are occurring in their areas. Youngstown, Ohio is one of those communities and the city has decided to take a more radical approach to the problem.
After many attempts to get the city’s economic development off the ground, Youngstown has decided to begin plans to demolish “under-occupied” dwellings, or homes that have been foreclosed on and become vacant as a result. But, in addition to just demolishing the homes, the plans include razing entire neighborhoods – streets, alleys, homes and other structures in order to make way for greener space parcels. These include neighborhood parks, enhanced development tracts and other open-space opportunities.
Youngstown isn’t the only community in Ohio that has implemented this plan. The major city of Cleveland has implemented a similar plan. Cleveland alone has about 13,000 vacant homes due to foreclosures and there are more vacant homes added to the list every day. Cleveland was used as a type of test case because of the number of foreclosures in the city and due the fact that foreclosures quadrupled in about 10 years.
Gus Frangos is in charge of the county land bank which is in charge of making abandoned properties productive once again. This includes foreclosed homes and the land on which they are located. According to Frangos, the best and most efficient way to do this is to this 80 percent of the time is to demolish the structure on the property. This can cost up to $7,500 per property, but it is often still the most cost-effective method for dealing with this problem.
Ohio officials expect that the land bank crews will demolish about 1,000 properties in Cleveland this year. Frangos compares the demolishing of these homes to burying the dead and says that the demolishing will not last forever, but only until the area can be stabilized once again by providing an economic use for the land.
In addition to being a more cost-efficient process, demolishing the vacated foreclosed home helps stop the hemorrhaging when it comes to falling property values in the surrounding area. Having a large number of foreclosed homes in an area can bring down property values for several reasons. For one thing, these homes become dilapidated and run down since nobody is caring for them. The lawns become overgrown and other areas of the home just start looking bad. But foreclosed homes also bring down the property value in an area because it increases the supply of available homes. The most basic concept of economics states that as the supply of a product increases, the demand decreases. As demand decreases, so does the value of that product.
As the number of foreclosures continues to rise throughout the country, one has to wonder if other communities and neighborhoods are going to follow suit. Will your neighborhood or a neighborhood near you be razed to make room for parks and other community amenities?