Carol Shields is tired of living next door to an abandoned house.
Trees have overgrown the front of the small one-story home. A board has replaced one of the windows.
The home is an eyesore in her Norton neighborhood.
“I’ve been very upset because it’s so rundown and in very bad shape,” Shields, 76, said. “It runs down my property. I would love to see it torn down.”
She might get her wish.
Summit County cities, villages and townships will spend nearly $7 million demolishing blighted homes over the next 18 months, thanks to a combination of grant money from state Attorney General Mike De-Wine’s Moving Ohio Forward program, matching cash from local governments and delinquent tax collection money from the new county land bank.
Norton has identified the house next to Shields as a potential target.
The county estimates that communities will be able to demolish between 928 and 1,392 homes. But that’s just a fraction of the overall problem. Earlier this year, the communities identified more than 5,000 properties that need attention.
County Council is expected to vote Monday on the demolition funding breakdown for all 31 communities. The county-run land bank will hand out the cash.
Under the legislation, Akron will get the largest share of the money because it has been hit so hard with foreclosures and vacant properties. There are an estimated 3,523 abandoned homes in the city.
Akron will have $3.9 million available for demolitions. Barberton and Springfield Township have the next highest amounts at $1.3 million and $381,037, respectively.
The county created the land bank, officially called the Summit County Land Reutilization Corp., this year to nab a demolition grant worth $3.78 million through DeWine’s office. Statewide, his office is handing out $75 million from a mortgage settlement with the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers — Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorganChase and Wells Fargo — over foreclosure abuse and fraud.
The majority of the Moving Ohio Forward grants required matching money from the communities. For example, Akron ponied up $980,939; Barberton provided $428,552.
The county also is steering money that doesn’t require a match to Akron ($150,000), Barberton ($100,000), Lakemore ($100,000) and Springfield Township ($50,000) because of the needs in those areas.
The county used a weighted formula to determine how to parcel out the rest of the cash. The formula took into account the number of properties identified as abandoned, foreclosed upon and certified tax delinquent.
Each community will receive at least $7,500.
Jason Dodson, chief of staff for County Executive Russ Pry, said it was important to provide at least some money to each city, village and township. (See chart for full breakdown.)
Barberton Mayor Bill Judge is excited about the program.
“I see this as the starting point, a real turning point in changing the city of Barberton,” he said. “Since 2001, we’ve spent about $700,000 tearing down blighted and condemned homes. ... Through this program, we’ll spend $1 million. The impact is going to be huge.”
The city will be able to redevelop the properties, either with new homes or with green space, Judge said.
Government and community leaders call abandoned homes a scourge on neighborhoods, saying they attract crime and drag down property values. They also create health hazards.
Patricia Ogrizek, 58, a disabled Navy veteran who lives in Norton, has several abandoned homes in her neighborhood.
“It’s scary,” she said about living near them. She wants to see them either fixed or torn down.
They attract not only vagrants who break in for parties or to do drugs, Ogrizek said, but also possums, raccoons and skunks.
“I had to get a security system because I was having break-ins,” she said.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org.