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Resolution would expand use of 'Hardest Hit' funds to include demolition

TIFFANY L. PARKS
Special to the Legal News

Published: August 27, 2013

Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-Canfield, is pushing for the passage of a resolution that would urge the U.S. Department of the Treasury to allow the use of up to 25 percent of the funds in the Ohio Hardest Hit Fund for demolition of vacant property.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 18 states that as a result of the housing market collapse in 2008, there are thousands of vacant properties throughout Ohio that are posing a risk to public safety and have a negative impact on the property values of other parcels.

“Demolition of these vacant properties is essential to restoring public safety, reducing neighborhood blight and improving property value,” the resolution states.

Available to help homeowners in 18 states, the Obama administration created the Hardest Hit Fund in 2010.

The program allocates funds to states, including Ohio, for the development of locally-tailored programs to assist struggling homeowners in their communities.

“Currently, most moneys in the Hardest Hit Fund may not be used for demolition costs of vacant structures,” SCR 18 states.

“The use of up to 25 percent of the remaining funds in the Ohio Hardest Hit Fund for demolition of vacant property will allow municipal corporations and land banks to demolish vacant structures while ensuring the rest of the funds are used for foreclosure-prevention efforts.”

According to a statement from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, the OHFA was allocated $570.4 million from the treasury department’s Hardest Hit Fund to administer the Save the Dream Ohio program.

“Ohio remains a leader among the 18 states participating in the Hardest Hit Fund program and ranks third in the nation in terms of the funds distributed,” OHFA officials wrote.

Save the Dream Ohio offers mortgage payment assistance, rescue payment assistance, modification with contribution assistance, homeownership retention assistance, lien elimination assistance and transition assistance.

“To reduce the number of vacant properties, thereby reducing blight and protecting and restoring the property values of surrounding buildings, the U.S. Department of the Treasury should allow the use of a portion of the Ohio Hardest Hit Fund for vacant structure demolition without delay,” the proposed resolution reads.

SCR 18 has gained bipartisan support from Sens. Capri Cafaro, D-Warren; Eric Kearney, D-Cincinnati; Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati; and Nina Turner, D-Cleveland.

The resolution is awaiting a committee assignment.

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