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Suburbs Battle Blight Left By Foreclosures

<p>Attempting to ward off a panic in the real estate market, cities in Ohio, Georgia, Illinois, and elsewhere are tapping into their coffers to eradicate foreclosure-related blight.</p>
March 24, 2007, 11am PDT | davarnado
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"Officials are installing alarms, fixing broken windows and mowing lawns at the vacant houses in hopes of preventing a snowball effect, in which surrounding property values suffer and worried neighbors move away. The officials are also working with financially troubled homeowners to renegotiate debts or, when eviction is unavoidable, to find apartments."

"It's a tragedy and it's just beginning," Mayor Judith H. Rawson of Shaker Heights, (Ohio) a mostly affluent suburb, said of the evictions and vacancies, a problem fueled by a rapid increase in high-interest, subprime loans. "All those shaky loans are out there, and the foreclosures are coming."

"Foreclosures in Cleveland's inner ring of suburbs, while still low compared with those in Cleveland itself, have climbed sharply, especially in lower-income neighborhoods that border the city. The suburbs here are among the best organized in their counterattack, experts say, but many suburbs elsewhere in the country have had jumps in foreclosures and are also working to stem the damage."

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Published on Friday, March 23, 2007 in The New York Times
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