Rust Belt Cities Demolish Homes as Foreclosures Blight Cleveland, Detroit

Friday, November 19, 2010
By Paul Martin

By Brian Louis
Bloomberg.com

Cleveland’s population has been shrinking for 60 years as the city lost manufacturing jobs. Now, after more than 33,000 foreclosures since 2005, it’s demolishing hundreds of deserted, derelict homes.

An agency started last year to manage abandoned houses in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, plans to acquire as many as 1,000 properties next year, and tear down as many as 900 of them. The city of Cleveland may raze double that amount, according to Gus Frangos, president of Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corp.

“You really have to bury the dead right now,” Frangos said in a telephone interview. “You have to remove blight. It’s unfortunately on a grand scale.”

Cities and counties across the Rust Belt are ending up with abandoned properties under their control as owners stop paying taxes. In Cuyahoga County, a record 2,400 tax foreclosures may occur this year, said Chris Warren, Cleveland’s chief of regional development. The governments are choosing to tear down some buildings rather than sell them as residents move to the suburbs and steel, automotive and manufacturing jobs disappear.

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