Posted December 21, 20213:38 pm
The Ashtabula County Land Bank was created in 2013 in response to the foreclosure crisis that began in 2008. The wave of foreclosures led to many abandoned homes throughout the country. These dilapidated homes dragged down the value of neighboring houses. Abandoned homes also became locations for illegal activity, making neighborhoods less safe.
The federal government provided funding to demolish these vacant structures. The government used money from settlements with the banks that helped cause the foreclosure crisis to fund demolitions. To date, the Ashtabula County Land Bank has demolished over 240 blighted structures in the county. As a result, neighborhood property values have stabilized. Safety has increased.
The land bank also rebuilds and revitalizes communities. The land bank worked with Conneaut, Geneva, and Ashtabula to survey all the parcels in those cities. With the survey data, cities can identify neighborhood challenges and plan for the future. The survey also identified properties that may be eligible for grant funding to address roof or weatherization problems.
Also, the land bank promotes the redevelopment of quality housing at all price points. We performed a study to understand the residential market and its opportunities. Now, the land bank works with cities to assemble land for redevelopment in key areas to help address market gaps. Additionally, the land bank identified a need for quality affordable housing across the county. We applied for a grant to help build new housing to be sold to people who make 60-80% of Area Median Income. This will help people build equity. New housing will also increase the quality of housing stock in the community.
Finally, the land bank recently completed its second home renovation. The worst house in a neighborhood was completely remodeled. The first two house renovations were sold at a price similar to other renovated houses in the area. The land bank is planning future projects that will be affordable to buyers with lower incomes.
The Ashtabula County Land Bank has gone from only demolition activities to a broad-based neighborhood stabilization strategy. We look forward to creating additional programs in the future.
Written by Eddy Eckart, Executive Director, Ashtabula County Land Bank
This article was published in Legal Aid's newsletter, "The Alert" Volume 37, Issue 2, in Winter 2021. See full issue at this link: “The Alert” – Volume 37, Issue 2 – Legal Aid Society of Cleveland (lasclev.org).