ELYRIA — Early in the day Thursday, 132 Bath St. was a vacant home with busted windows exposing rooms with holes in the walls.
Within a few hours, however, sheets of plywood were nailed to the windows and doors, securing a home that just hours earlier was open to all. It is one of many homes the city is in the process of securing with the goal of placing it on the road to demolition.
Mayor Holly Brinda said residents will see a lot of activity at vacant homes in the coming weeks and months as the Building Department has a new edict to rev up residential inspections, and if necessary, begin the condemnation and demolition process on vacant homes.
Some of the homes have been vacant for several years, while others are newly emptied and are just now coming on the city’s radar.
Two part-time inspectors are being hired to aid in the additional work the directive may cause, and Kevin Brubaker, a city employee who has held a slew of different titles, will serve as the Building Department’s operations manager through the end of the year to oversee the work.
The city has to move fast because Brinda said a pot of money worth millions will soon be available through a federal mortgage settlement that will give cities like Elyria the funds to demolish homes. Elyria will have to work with the county and the state Attorney’s Office to get the money.
“Basically, it’s first come, first serve,” Brinda said. “The communities that have more homes ready to come down will see more money.”
The city has a list of several hundred homes it will look at as possible candidates for demolition.
Brinda said a major portion of the list was generated through the work of resident Norm Failing, a regular at City Council meetings who drove up and down city, writing down the addresses of vacant homes.
“His list is much more expanded than anything we have seen,” Brinda said. “It really has given us a very good working foundation and we are using the list.”
Not of the homes that have been or will be boarded up in the coming days will be demolished.
“We have to target at least 200 homes to get to the target number of 50 homes to come down in 18 months,” Brubaker said. “It won’t be easy. From the time it’s boarded up and even if everything goes smoothly, it is at least 277 days from start to finish.”
News that work is increasing in the Building Department is being met with excitement by residents, some of whom have been very vocal in their displeasure at the department’s slow pace in responding to complaints.
“It was desperately needed,” said Holly Huff, head of the Cascade/Furnace Block Watch and an outspoken community activist. “It’s nice to see movement at some of these houses because we have only been waiting five years.”
Huff said the list of homes the city is boarding up include six in her neighborhood. She believes another six homes will need to be addressed soon.
“Those are the homes that are in desperate need of serious repair and, if left alone, will be the next ones the city boards up,” she said.
Brinda said inspectors will be aggressive with their work, but not overzealous.
“This is a unique opportunity to make a difference in our communities, and we have to be mindful that the money will not be around for long,” she said.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced in February that Ohio was part of the joint federal-state settlement of $25 billion with five of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders. Ohio’s estimated share of the settlement is $335 million, and the money will be used for four major areas, including revitalizing neighborhoods by getting rid of blighted properties.
“This settlement will provide much-needed relief to Ohio homeowners and communities and help our state to recover from the destruction left behind from the mortgage financing crisis,” DeWine said in a statement at that time.
The following homes have been or will be boarded up by the city. The city is now in the process of communicating with owners and moving through the demolition process, if necessary. In the next 18 months, the city will target 200 homes with the hopes of razing 50 properties. Residents who have complaints about problem vacant homes in their neighborhoods are asked to call the building department at (440) 326-1491.
- 115 Floral Court
- 121 Hillsdale Court
- 118 Taft Ave.
- 121 Taft Ave.
- 132 Bath St.
- 108 Neufer Court
- 129 Cascade St.
- 115 Glendale Court
- 501 Dewey Ave.
- 426 13th St.
- 432 13th St.
- 213 14th St.
- 1017 East Ave.
- 803 East Ave.
- 160 Bath St.
- 520 North St.
- 317 S. Maple St.
- 313 Gulf Road
- 574 Purdue Ave.
Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.