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Cleveland Counts Its Vacant Homes, Finds Hope in Shrinking Numbers

Surveyors hitting the streets in Cleveland have found that the problem of vacant homes in the city isn't as bad as first feared.
December 7, 2015, 7am PST | jwilliams | @jwillia22
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Ed Kohler

Through a partnership with the non-profit Thriving Communities Institute, Cleveland is getting a better hand on understanding its stock of vacant homes that litter parts of the city. Michelle Jarboe of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that an assessment carried out by Thriving Communities, using a 16-person team, has determined that 8.8 percent of the 158,851 properties surveyed can be classified as being vacant. Of those, more than a third "might be a lost cause." This would result in a total of 6,100 structures that would need to be demolished, at a cost of $60 million to the city. However, there is an upside to the survey results.

Here's the good news: The blight isn't as bad as it appeared, based on past estimates from the city and other researchers…

The pool of deeply tainted properties actually has been shrinking, thanks to demolition, fewer foreclosures and a healthier housing market. The tally of decrepit houses fell from 2013, when the city found more than 7,700 distressed or empty homes. Nearly every neighborhood saw improvement.

Jarboe reports that a recent study found that demolition programs for vacant properties in other cities, including Detroit, has resulted in the value of occupied homes within 500 feet of the demolished property increasing 4.3 percent. 

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Published on Saturday, November 21, 2015 in Cleveland Plain-Dealer
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