Erie County land bank lands $500K

The $500,000 in state funds aims to demolish at least 20 area blighted, vacant homes
Andy Ouriel
Aug 20, 2014

ouriel@sanduskyregister.com

A local blighted home program received a big boost to further bolster area neighborhoods.

Representatives from the Neighborhood Initiative Program on Wednesday announced Erie County secured $500,000 in public funds to demolish at least 20 area homes.

The Neighborhood Initiative Program, a state-run organization, empowers homeowners by supporting programs helping to increase property values and improve neighborhoods.

These new funds piggyback off $473,000 in state money Erie County obtained in 2012, covering demolitions for 39 blighted houses.

All funds funnel into the Erie County land bank, the local program overseeing area home demolitions funded with public dollars.

"We're excited that the housing finance agency has given us this money, and we are looking forward to getting started," Erie County land bank director Scott Schell said.

In the grant application, local officials pinpointed several homes qualifying for demolition — neighborhoods in Sandusky, Vermilion and the townships of Margaretta and Perkins — and will soon determine which structures come down.

Most homes qualifying for demolition, however, are located in Sandusky, Schell said.

The land bank's main purpose revolves around putting vacant, abandoned and tax-delinquent homes back into productive use somehow, Schell said.

Once demolition occurs, the empty land can entice:

• Entrepreneurs who want to create or expand a brick-and-mortar business.

• Community members or neighbors seeking to build a garage, shed or home.

• Residents who simply want more green space for yard expansion, which would add to their acreage.

Just by absorbing more land, no matter what's done upon it, will create new tax money for area schools and local governments via additional property taxes.

"Putting these properties in the hands of people that will properly maintain them, potentially redevelop them and pay their property taxes gets these properties back onto the tax roll, which helps increase the amount of money raised through property taxes," Schell said. "It's definitely making an impact, and this new money will allow us to continue doing that."

 

 

Bad apple

It's unknown exactly how many abandoned or vacant homes exist in Erie County today.

But consider this: A major chunk of the 2,300 area properties that are currently tax delinquent — or at least two years late on paying taxes — could qualify for the program. In total, these properties in 2013 owed Erie County about $10.7 million in late tax payments.

Officials equate an abandoned home to a bad apple rotting in a bushel: One blighted home can ruin the entire neighborhood.

Nearby home values can plunge, and the perception of a community nosedives.

The land bank works to counter this epidemic and indirectly pay down how much is owed through back taxes.

So far, the program is deemed a success, officials said.

"The land bank's purpose in Erie County is to stabilize property values by eliminating decaying and abandoned properties," Erie County commissioner Pat Shenigo said.

 

Target areas

Erie County officials pinpointed several areas where they'd like to leverage $500,000 in state money for potential demolitions:

Sandusky
• The east end
• The Firelands and Garden districts
• Homestead neighborhood
• Kilbourne Plat
• Southside neighborhood

Perkins Township
• Homeville
• Searsville

Margaretta Township
• Crystal Rock

Vermilion
• The west end

Comments

CommonsenseNow

Yay! There are some homes that need to come down in Sandusky for sure!

Julie R.

Nobody was ever held accountable in the Sandusky housing scandal, it was conveniently swept under the rug, yet the State turns around and gives the Erie County land bank $500K to demolish 20 blighted vacant homes that are mostly in the city of Sandusky.

Go figure.

WhatTheHeck

I am sure this is a Grant and they have restrictions on where the money goes. What wonderful news!

Julie R.
LivinOnTheLake

Julie...uhhh, this is a grant going to ERIE COUNTY, not City of Sandusky. If your implying that since the Erie County Land Bank director used to work for the City of Sandusky, I think he was held accountable and thus why he no longer works for the City.

Julie R.

First off, I was talking about how nobody was ever held accountable in the Sandusky housing scandal, not the Erie County Land Bank director, but since you mentioned it, what do you mean he no longer works for the city? Isn't Schell also a Sandusky city commissioner? The grant also might be going to Erie County, but the majority of the homes qualifying for demolition are (surprise, surprise) situated in the city of Sandusky.

knowitall

Maybe that is where the priority is??

CommonsenseNow

That's what I was thinking.

LivinOnTheLake

Julie R - yes, he's a City Commissioner, but he's not a City employee. Hope you can understand the difference. Erie County pays his salary now, not the City. The reason the grant's priority focus is on properties in the City limits of Sandusky is because most of the properties that meet the description of blighted homes...wait for it...are located in Sandusky. I'm not trying to say ALL blighted homes are in Sandusky, just that a majority (51%) of them are. I live near Huron and yes, there are some blighted homes that should be torn down here too. Feel better now Julie???

Julie R.

Considering how you have attempted to take away from my original comment, allow me to reiterate.

Nearly a decade ago, federal grant money was made available to the city of Sandusky to assist homeowners in making upgrades & emergency repairs to their homes. The program (CHIP) was designed to protect against letting neighborhoods deteriorate and allowing homes to become abandoned and in disrepair. As we already know, the Sandusky CHIP program was a rip-off. The contractors, approved by the city of Sandusky, took the money but failed to make the repairs and nobody was ever held accountable. In other words, somebody got away with flat-out theft of federal grant money and the city of Sandusky and your prosecutor, Kevin Baxter, did nothing to resolve it. Yet now the State dishes out more grant money ~ specifically $500K ~ to Erie County to demolish abandoned homes in which the majority of these homes ~ surprise, surprise ~ are situated in the RIP-OFF city of Sandusky.

knowitall

Jules...you should be happy the area is getting the funds. If not here, somewhere else will get it. Don't worry, be happy!

Julie R.

I've never seen any blighted homes in Huron. Can you name one? There are quite a few foreclosures but no homes so badly in need of repair they need to be demolished. I tend to think that's because the neighborhoods in Huron would never put up with the crap that the people in Sandusky have been forced to put up with for umpteen years.

knowitall

Look closer. And not with blinders on.

God Of Thunder

Julie will never feel better...She prefers to remain bitter the rest of her life..

knowitall

Seems as such doesn't it.

WhatTheHeck

I think she (Julie R.) is a plant put here by the SR to rabble rouse things.

sugar

Julie is not the only one unhappy. GOT why do you hate women?