LORAIN — As the white-frame, two-story house came down Tuesday with the help of an excavator, its destruction was a sign of rising hope, property values and stability in one of the city’s most crime-plagued neighborhoods.
The demolition marked a milestone of sorts as the 150th blighted house to be torn down in Lorain County under a year-old program.
Minutes before the yellow excavator extended its scoop and shredded the house, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer and other officials marked the occasion in front of the condemned house in the 900 block of West 17th Street.
Ritenauer pointed out five other houses that have either come down or are slated to be torn down in the same block.
About 50 houses have been torn down in Lorain under the countywide housing demolition effort began in May 2012 with $2 million made available through the state’s share of a $25 billion national mortgage settlement reached in 2012.
The $2 million is part of $75 million put toward a statewide demolition program initiated by DeWine with funds from the mortgage settlement.
“This is a win across the board,” according to Ritenauer, who noted the tearing down of former drug trafficking houses and magnets for other crime is beginning to have “a cumulative positive effect” for nearby residents “two doors from a crack house who are paying taxes and mortgages.
“We’re seeing police calls replaced by calls to companies offering services such as lawn care,” Ritenauer said.
The demolition work itself also is providing employment for some 15 companies, Ritenauer said.
“Lorain County is setting a great pace in demolition,” DeWine said, noting the important role the program is performing to “cut these cancers out of neighborhoods.”
Lorain Councilman Dennis Flores, D-2nd Ward, said the program represents a real means of dealing with longstanding problems in the area.
“This has restored faith in our neighborhoods coming back,” Flores said.
The house being torn down Tuesday was within sight of the Long Avenue area, which has long been a troublesome spot for crime.
“People have come up to thank us as these houses finally come down,” County Commissioner Ted Kalo said. “They are out on their porches again at night.”
Lorain hopes to tear down 150 to 200 more blighted houses this year with the aid of a vacant property inventory that will identify concentrations of blighted houses.
The exact number of houses to be demolished will be determined by how much of the $75 million in state funds aren’t used elsewhere and put back into the pot for other cities.
The city ultimately could target 800 to 1,000 houses.
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.