200 Hamilton, Middletown vacant homes to be demolished

HAMILTON, Ohio -- About 200 vacant homes in Hamilton and Middletown could be demolished within the next six months.

A grant program, Moving Ohio Forward , created by Ohio Attorney General's office funds the city to tear down these homes. The city is moving to tear down these homes before the grant ends.

In 2012, the Butler County Land Reutilization Corp., or land bank, was formed. It acts as a pass through to transfer properties and grant money to Hamilton and Middletown.

Hamilton and Middletown city officials approved spending up to $1.1 million each, the Journal-News reports.

During the federal stimulus Neighborhood Stabilization Program, Middletown demolished about 80 homes over two years, Doug Adkins, Middletown community revitalization director and Butler County Land Bank vice chair, told the Journal-News.

By comparison, the Moving Ohio Forward program was originally scheduled to be more than 300 houses a year.

When land bank agencies statewide fell behind schedule, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the deadline for counties to spend all their Moving Ohio Forward demolition grant dollars to be extended from December 31 to May 31 next year.

“We are going to try our best” to tear down 200 houses by the end of May in Hamilton, Kathy Dudley, assistant law director, told the Journal-News.

“We’re not going to tear down things that don’t need torn down, but we’re going to try to be strategic,” she said. “They have to be going through foreclosure, but given that we have limited resources, we’re trying to get the worst of the worst.”

Hamilton and Middletown are going about demolishing properties different ways.

Hamilton is mainly obtaining mortgage and tax foreclosures. These are properties that go to the county sheriff’s auction twice. The properties with no bids are forfeited to the State of Ohio. At the request of Hamilton, the Butler County Land Bank asks for a property from the state and it is transferred to the city.

Once the property is demolished, the city can sell the land, keep it for city purposes, or adjoining property owners can request the land.

Middletown is not taking title to property in most cases.

Instead, the city condemns the vacant property through the Building Inspection Department for code violations such as being unsafe and animal infested. The property owner then has the choice of appealing the demolition orders, returning the property to code compliance, or taking no action, Doug Adkins, Middletown community revitalization director and Butler County Land Bank vice chair, told Journal-News.

“The down side to the Middletown process is that in most cases, the vacant lot left by demolition is now commercially, effectively unusable due to the demolition lien placed on the vacant land. The private market will have no interest in what is left,” said Adkins.

Demolishing vacant homes can help prevent crimes and raise surrounding property values. In addition, taxpayer money is already being spent, to match the grant money, in order to demolish these homes. 


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