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Lawmakers Push To Use Foreclosure Relief Dollars To Raze Blighted Homes

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A bipartisan group of Northeast Ohio lawmakers is advocating legislation that would allow states to funnel money dedicated for foreclosure relief to demolish blighted homes instead.

Friday, July 5, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Representatives Dave Joyce, Marcy Kaptur, and Marcia Fudge proposed the bill in February, and are trying to keep attention on the issue to push Congress to act. Senator Rob Portman proposed a similar measure in the Senate.

Ohio received 570.4 million dollars from the federal Hardest Hit Fund in 2010, and has spent roughly a third of it helping homeowners avoid foreclosure.

Dave Joyce from Ohio's 14th district says the state should be free to use the money to raze vacant homes because that will help prevent other homeowners from falling underwater with their mortgages.

Joyce: "These are the homes where violent crimes are committed, and drug activity, and they devalue neighborhoods and demean neighborhoods and that's not fair for the hard working taxpayers who pay their mortgage and try to secure their neighborhood to have these blights reduce the value of the homes that they've worked so hard to keep."

The bill is currently in the House Committee on Financial Services and has not yet been scheduled for the floor. Joyce says it has stalled because it's difficult to get Congress to work together to act on many items these days.

This bill is different from the waiver Ohio applied for that would siphon $60 million dollars of the state’s share of HHF money to clear abandoned properties.

Proponents say the new legislation is needed because even if Ohio does get that waiver, it will have so many strings attached that it may be hard to direct the money to the neighborhoods with the most abandoned homes.

Critics say the legislation is unnecessary and the money is better spent on helping cash strapped homeowners pay their mortgages.

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