Robert Klein Sets Record Straight on Housing Demolition and Community Stabilization
On July 15, The Plain Dealer published a blog written by Robert Klein, founder and chairman of Safeguard Properties, titled Setting the Record Straight on Housing Demolition and How it can Stabilize a Community: Letter to the Editor.
Setting the record straight on housing demolition and how it can stabilize a community: letter to the editor
Recovering from the national housing crisis has been and continues to be a long, multistage process. The housing market will play a critical role in the broader economic recovery of our nation.
After implementing new banking regulations and budget cutbacks, lawmakers have turned their attention to repairing the fabric of America: our cities, neighborhoods and small towns. States around the country are making strides toward legislation for fast-tracking foreclosures, and some governments have even instituted statewide vacant property registration guidelines.
On the surface, this subject may seem a lot simpler than other issues Americans have dealt with in the wake of the housing crisis, and while rebuilding America’s communities may not be as complex as crafting the Dodd-Frank bill, it is much more than bricks, mortar and 2×4’s. There is a lack of understanding of the most effective way to implement the revitalization process. I believe it requires a holistic approach with several simultaneous steps, and demolition is a critical starting point.
While many may consider demolition as a last resort, it is in fact a vital step in a comprehensive approach when rehabbing a community. It is impossible to cultivate development and garner interest from prospective home owners, as well as investors, if homes that cannot be saved are still standing. When these properties remain, they become a health and safety hazard for residents and neighboring homes. If the proper steps are not taken to remove a nuisance property, then rehabbing efforts are futile.
There are also several benefits associated with demolition, including stabilizing property values and eliminating older homes that contain dangerous substances such asbestos. Also, many of the materials from demolished properties can be recycled. Cities are now repurposing the lots from demolished homes into green space, parks and playgrounds to cultivate community development. More important, demolition paves the way for salvageable homes to be rehabilitated, allowing for the subsequent steps in the development process. In the aftermath of demolition, we can create these community pulse points, build new houses and neighboring homeowners can preserve their property values and see their neighborhood or small town come back to life.
Unfortunately, there are often challenges in getting the demolition process underway, as the permit process can be both costly and time consuming. This proves that greater education is necessary on the need for demolition and its associated benefits. Dollars from both the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and the Hardest Hit Fund have been dedicated to demolition efforts. Despite this designation, in many states across the country there has been a struggle for communities to get their hands on these funds because of the stigma associated with demolition. If the proper funds are not distributed for demolition efforts, then dollars spent to keep people in their homes and to rehabilitate communities are completely undermined.
We need to educate people on what demolition really is. Demolition is not tearing down your grandmother’s home or the house you grew up in. Houses that need to be demolished are no longer homes at all. They are properties that endanger your community, perpetuate blight and prevent revitalization efforts.
Robert Klein, Cleveland
Klein is the founder and chairman of Safeguard Properties.
To view the online blog, please click here.
Safeguard Properties is the largest mortgage field services company in the U.S. Founded in 1990 by Robert Klein and based in Valley View, Ohio, the company inspects and maintains defaulted and foreclosed properties for mortgage servicers, lenders, and other financial institutions. Safeguard employs approximately 1,700 people, in addition to a network of thousands of contractors nationally. Website: www.safeguardproperties.com.