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Warren plans to demolish hundreds of vacant homes

WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) - A good deal of federal funding is coming to Ohio, and Warren is already making plans for its piece.

When President Barack Obama signed the federal budget bill last month, it had a provision that transferred $2 billion into the hardest hit fund. Officials with the Treasury Department are allowing that money to be used for removing blight in states, like Ohio, hit hard by the foreclosure crisis.

It is expected that a few million will be coming to Trumbull County. Warren has its own plans for the funds -- it plans to tackle many of the vacant homes scattered throughout the city's neighborhoods.

"These abandoned and neglected houses that remain in our city impact property values in a negative way, make our neighborhoods a little less safe and create a false impression that nobody cares," said Warren Mayor Doug Franklin.

In the first fund of funding, Ohio received $80 million. Of that, $4.9 million went to Trumbull County through the Land Bank.

Ohio is expected to receive an additional $150 to $200 million for blight removal for the allocation, Franklin says.

With the available funding, Warren officials are already eyeing 279 residential properties and preparing them for demolition.

City Director of Safety and Service Enzo Cantalamessa said the homes must first be foreclosed and taken into ownership by the Land Bank.

"Then, and only then, can the monies used for demolition be used to actually carry out the demolition," Cantalamessa said.

Officials aren't releasing the properties on the list yet, but they say many of them are on the southwest and southeast sides of the city.

Jim Bluedorn, fourth ward councilman, said the demolitions should help to eliminate other problems, such as drug activity and squatters.

"There is not one good thing that can come from a vacant home, and this is going to eliminate that," he said. "You eliminate the source, everything is going to clean up around it."

What is unique about this round of funding is that $5,000 is allotted for each property for greening efforts, with an additional $400 each year for three years to maintain it -- something Mayor Franklin said will help create jobs for city residents.

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