A Challenging Situation

A burning platform for change...

Vacancy is Toxic

Vacant properties act like infectious and deadly agents in our communities.

Consider this: One vacant house on a block destroys the value of nearby homes. Soon, due to loss of value, foreclosures and bank walk-aways, the nearby homes become vacant as the disease spreads. Soon the entire neighborhood is dead and diseased, having been destroyed by this contagious and toxic process. Then the adjacent areas are infected and the disease spreads further … predictably, relentlessly, and with devastating consequences.

We all read the headlines: northern Ohio's urban areas are in the midst of an unprecedented vacancy crisis, one that is causing our cities to literally decay from the center outward. In Cuyahoga County alone, there are about 15,000 properties that sit vacant. The number of vacant homes in Stark County rose from 8,708 in 2000 to 14,126 in 2011, a more than 62 percent increase1. We know that vacant properties attract crime, lower surrounding property values and cost our cities millions in service costs and unrealized tax revenues. This threatens the safety and the stability of some of our most beautiful and historic neighborhoods. And, it makes it impossible for our region to regain the footing it so desperately needs for economic stabilization and growth. It is a real crisis.

 

At Western Reserve Land Conservancy, we want to help. We talked with community leaders throughout Ohio to learn, to connect, and to learn some more. We concluded that this crisis is an opportunity. We find ourselves in a unique moment in time, where we have an opportunity to revitalize our region's communities.

 

1 Policy Matters Ohio report, "Home Insecurity"