South Euclid Leading Effort to Reclaim Abandoned Homes

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South Euclid's foreclosure picture is typical of many inner ring Cleveland suburbs: dilapidated and abandoned houses dragging down values of homes around them, backlogs of cases, homes where the owners can't even be identified - all stalling any movement to tear down unusable properties and rehab usable ones and sell them to suitable owners.

Mayor Georgine Welo says she's constantly being approached by what she considers less-than-reputable mortgage firms; ready to offer the city "deals" to get bodies into large numbers of currently vacant homes - whether the new residents are qualified to own them - or not.

GEORGINE WELO: "After they tell me that very nicely, I very nicely tell them that it's not going to fly here, and that I will hunt them down like a dog if I have to - and I have said it and they know it - I have done it. And I'm not going to stand by any longer."

Keith Benjamin is the city's Community Services Director, who says one roadblock has been that South Euclid, and other communities less than 50 thousand in population ....are ineligible for direct funding from the federal government to fight their foreclosure problems.
The city has received a $300,000 grant from the First Suburbs Development Council to begin its green neighborhoods agenda... and is in line for a grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development's $6 billion Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

KEITH BENJAMIN: "Someone has to step up to the plate and be a leader, in Cuyahoga County to educate people and the government - on the challenges that we are facing, and how we can best go about revitalizing and maintaining our neighborhoods."

Members of two federal reserve banks and the National Abandoned Properties Campaign heard of their efforts Monday, as they visit communities around the country, to see how the federal money is being used, and whether local officials are encountering roadblocks.

South Euclid hopes for immediate impact - such as attraction of new businesses and an increase in their tax base. And they hope to see other communities in the county - follow suit..

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