ClevelandÕ plan to fight blight? Demolish 6,000 homes

Lots being redeveloped as parks, greenhouses

The city of Cleveland is undertaking an interesting plan to fight urban blight, crime and falling home prices.

Instead of attempting to rebuild foreclosed and abandoned homes in blighted neighborhoods, the city is demolishing them and turning the empty lots into parks, greenhouses, and in one case, a vineyard.

All in all, the city plans to demolish 6,000 foreclosed and abandoned homes, according to a report from CNN Money.

From the CNN Money report:

"For the larger body — the neighborhood — to survive, you have to remove those cancer cells," said Frank Ford, a policy adviser for the nonprofit Thriving Communities Institute of Cleveland.

During the housing bust, Ford worked at a community redevelopment group that renovated 50 foreclosed homes in Cleveland for $180,000 each. They sold the rehabbed homes for about $90,000 apiece; taking a $90,000 hit on each.

If they had spent that money to demolish nine or 10 foreclosed homes instead and turned the land into green space, it would have had an immediate beneficial impact, said Ford.

That’s just what the city is now doing. And it’s finding the program successful as well.

"There's a direct relationship," said Ford's colleague Jim Rokakis, a director at Thriving Communities. "If there are two bad houses on a block, people will move away and their houses go vacant. Take them down and people will stay."

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3d rendering of a row of luxury townhouses along a street

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