September 21, 2014

Elyria
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Lorain to spend funds on blighted buildings

LORAIN — The city wants to focus  more than $3 million in federal funding on rehabilitating or demolishing blighted structures throughout the older areas of Lorain.

Ohio cities hard-hit by foreclosures learned in September that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would dole out more than $258 million to improve run-down areas. Lorain’s take totaled $3.03 million, while Elyria received $2.4 million.

Lorain’s Community Development Department wants to funnel more than $1.6 million toward acquiring foreclosed or abandoned properties. It would then rehabilitate the buildings and sell or lease the properties to low- to moderate-income families.

The areas being considered include sections of central, southern and eastern Lorain, according to Drake Hopewell, the city’s housing rehabilitation administrator.

“The properties have to be foreclosed, abandoned or vacant for us to consider them,” he said. “The focus is on older, more developed areas. We still have to ascertain which properties are potential candidates.”

The proposed spending plan also includes focusing $750,000 of HUD funding on the demolition of blighted structures.

The Community Development Department estimates that 10 commercial structures and 65 homes could be demolished with the available money.

The plan also calls for holding onto some of the property to create a land bank so there is property available for future developers and homebuilders.

Mayor Tony Krasienko has said demolition is likely to begin this spring, but it might take one or two years for the housing market to rebound enough for developers to take interest in building new homes.

About $300,000 will be put toward administrative costs in order to meet the strict compliance guidelines under the HUD agreement, Hopewell said.

“There’s quite a bit of reporting,” he said. “There are quarterly reports on every project undertaken — it’s about three to four more than we have to do now through HUD.”

City Council will review the application during Monday’s Council meeting. The application must be submitted to HUD by Dec. 1.

Contact Stephen Szucs at 329-7129 or sszucs@chroniclet.com.