Land Banks Fight Blight in Mahoning and Trumbull Counties
On November 11, Youngstown NBC affiliate WFMJ-TV posted a report discussing the plans of two Ohio county landbanks to counter the effects of blight and re-purpose vacant and abandoned properties.
Land Banks fight blight in Mahoning and Trumbull Counties
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – You may be surprised at how much money is owed to local governments in un-paid property taxes. It’s not only an economic problem, but it creates blight. Trumbull county is using a land bank to re-purpose delinquent properties.
Trumbull and Mahoning counties each have more than $30-million in delinquent property taxes on their books. To help eliminate eye-sores and unpaid taxes Trumbull county decided to establish a land bank.
“We were the third created land bank in the state of Ohio,” said Trumbull County Treasurer Sam Lamancusa.
The mission of a land bank is to return vacant and abandoned properties to productive use.
“Anything that the treasurers office forecloses on is moved from foreclosure straight into the land bank,” the Treasurer said.
In recent years the treasurer says predatory lending pushed to county’s delinquency rate up from 7-percent to around 14-percent, as bad lending lead to bank walk-a-ways. To help manage the land bank the treasurer collaborated with the Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership.
“It gives us the ability to return these blighted, vacant properties to productive use in the community,” Matt Martin of the Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership said.
One of the ways they are doing that is with the side-lot incentive program in which a neighbor can take ownership of an adjacent lot where a vacant house was removed. Richard Mollard jumped at the chance to turn his side lot into green space and wishes more people would do the same.
“Everybody should jump in and get in on this land bank thing, it only costs a few dollars to maintain it and makes a little bit of an improvement on it,” Mollard said.
Vacant houses that are not too far gone can be renovated and upgraded.
“What we’re really planning for is the kind of thing where a property that we renovated and made for sale so that we can create home ownership out of these vacant properties,” Martin said.
“If the house can’t be rehabbed, we take it down and make it into green space and the people are happy not having dilapidated buildings around them,” said Mike Robinson of the Treasurers office.
The green space parks and community gardens are helping to improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods. Treasurer Lamancusa says in it’s short life, the land bank has impacted 1,500 properties already, and he believes it has the potential to help cut the county’s delinquent tax rate by half.
“We can save these homes and hopefully put some people in these homes that want to call downtown Warren, the Warren area home. It’s doing exactly what the program was designed to do it’s revitalizing the neighborhoods,” said Lamancusa.
More information about the Mahoning Land Bank can be found here
Information about the Trumbull County Land Bank can be found by following this link
Please click here to view the report online.
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