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Congressman Tim Ryan

Representing the 13th District of Ohio

Congressman Tim Ryan Spearheads Bipartisan Effort to Eliminate Neighborhood Blight

September 18, 2018
Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) today, along with Congressman David McKinley (R-WV) introduced the Clean Up Our Neighborhoods Act of 2018. This legislation would authorize the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to make grants to States to eliminate blight by taking down abandoned homes, clearing vacant lots, and assist in distressed neighborhood revitalization.

“There are currently 1.3 million vacant residential properties in America. Many thousands of them in Midwest communities like Youngstown and Akron, Ohio and Detroit and Flint, Michigan. Our ultimate goal must be to completely eliminate blighted structures in America and this bill is a big step in that direction. The economic and social costs of these abandoned buildings and vacant lots cannot be overstated. We know from studies that abandoned properties can cost neighbors tens of thousands of dollars in property value losses. According to FEMA, $777 million in property loss occurs each year from fires started in these structures,” said Congressman Ryan. “Living near vacant homes and lots can also lead to negative public health and social outcomes. Studies show blight can increase criminal activity by creating physical spaces for violence—especially gun violence. Many families and individuals living in these neighborhoods experience lower literacy rates, higher rates of chronic illness, developmental delays, and premature mortality. A nation as wealthy as the United States cannot be content while large sections of our urban centers lay abandoned, endangering the communities around them. My legislation will get to the root of this problem, putting the resources of the US Federal Government on the ground level to make Americans’ lives better.”

“Abandoned buildings and vacant lots are an eyesore to the community and can negatively impact economic development. This bill will provide more resources to empower rural and urban communities alike to mitigate blight, which will improve our neighborhoods and give a boost to revitalization efforts," said Congressman McKinley.

“We have 54 county land banks in Ohio and the primary reason so many of them came into existence was to deal with blight—the tens of thousands of vacant and abandoned structures that drag down Ohio’s communities.  These abandoned structures make our communities less safe, less desirable and have destroyed property values.  This bill will give us a badly needed tool that we need to deal with this crippling problem of blight,” Said Jim Rokakis, Vice President of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy

"The proposed blight elimination bill could have a great impact on Trumbull County, where like so many other Ohio communities we have been fighting vacancy and blight issues for years. The Trumbull County Land Bank has been the driver of residential demolition activities since our inception in 2011, and this bill will allow for the much-needed funding to raze the lingering vacant and dilapidated commercial properties plaguing our neighborhoods, while also providing the opportunity to create resident driven public green space projects." Said Shawn Carvin, Trumbull County Land Bank Director

“This legislation is absolutely critical to continue the work we, and our partners, are doing to strengthen neighborhoods – particularly in communities most vulnerable to the negative effects of abandonment and blight. We appreciate the work that Congressman Ryan has put forth to support local communities.  We, like many others, are still facing a crisis that cannot be solved without additional support, and we look forward to supporting any efforts that will help strengthen and rebuild our neighborhoods,” said Patrick L. Bravo, MPA, JD, Executive Director of the Summit County Land Bank

"To date, Mahoning County Land Bank has removed approximately 800 vacant, abandoned, blighted houses in 14 communities, making neighborhoods safer, cleaner and more secure for residents," said Daniel R. Yemna, Chairman of the Mahoning County Land Bank

"We need to build on this momentum to meet Mahoning County's remaining residential demolition needs and strategically address abandoned commercial properties, especially those that are detrimental to neighborhood vitality," said Debora Shaulis, Executive Director of the Mahoning County Land Bank

The bill would direct the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to make competitive grants to states to eliminate blight and promote neighborhood revitalization. Funding from the award can be used for demolition, clearance and removal of blighted structures, boarding of vacant properties and blighted structures, removal of waste  and stabilization activities in connection with providing vacant, green space for the purpose of public access and redevelopment. States must match 15 percent of the amount of the grant.

You can read the full text of the bill here