CINCINNATI - Neighbors say 1411 Ryland Avenue in Bond Hill is the classic vision of a blighted property.
Vacant for five years, locals say the foreclosed home has become a magnet for drugs, dumping, and distress to what used to be a beautiful, quiet street.
Tuesday, members of the neighborhood, along with activists from Fight for a Fair Economy and Communities United for Action (CUFA), descended upon 1411 to clean it up.
Armed with gloves, garbage bags and a weed whacker, over 30 volunteers picked up trash and cut back overgrown vegetation around the property.
"(The banks) could keep this property up, and they're not doing it," said Marvin Smith who has friends in the neighborhood who asked him to help."The banks should be ashamed."
Brenda Stallworth is with Fight for a Fair Economy. She sees the property values plummeting because, she says, the banks that now own the foreclosed homes are not maintaining them. "It's just not fair," she says.
"I want to see them either put a family in here, or rebuild the home, rebuild the property," said Brandon Brown, who grew up in Bond Hill.
"We want to voice our opinion, let these banks know we're tired of this," said Roger Davis, President of CUFA.
And so they did.
The dozen or so filled bags were tagged "Property of U.S. Bank," and driven down town to the bank's offices across from Fountain Square.
The Hamilton County Auditor's website shows US Bank owns 1411 Ryland.
"Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!" they shouted as they filled the lobby, carrying the trash with them.
They dumped all of the bags in the middle of the customer service area, and asked to speak with a manager.
They were told to leave the building. "If you don't want to leave, that's fine. We'll have the police come," Roger Davis was told by a security guard.
Eventually, the protestors left with their trash.
"It's awful that they don't give our community any attention, just like it was awful that they didn't pay any true attention to us," said Davis. "But we will be back."
U.S. Bank spokesperson Lisa Clark issued a statement to WCPO saying they aren't responsible for the property on Ryland, Ocwen Financial is.
"Our name likely came up as a trustee for this property, the statement reads. "As a trustee, we have no direct involvement with the borrower or the property itself, but maintain investor/securities holder records and distribute payments to investors.
"Because we maintain records and do the paperwork for the trust, that is why you see our name in connection with the property. It is important to know that as trustee, we have no authority to manage or maintaining properties in foreclosure.
"While U.S. Bank serves as the trustee for this property, we will contact Ocwen to make sure that they are aware of this issue and to clean up the property as soon as possible."
A spokesman for Ocwen Financial called our newsroom from New York saying they aren't responsible either.
Frank Sommerfield, representing Ocwen says "the property-along with the obligation to maintain it-was sold and transferred earlier in the year to a limited partnership called M17S, L.P. (of 4526 Lovers Lane, #178, Dallas, TX)."
According to the Dallas Central Appraisal District, that address doesn't exist.
The only available listing this reporter could find for M17S was a computer repair business with no phone number in Fort Worth.
Activists say the difficulty in finding who will accept responsibilty for foreclosed properties is daunting, so they want to hold the banks that originated the loans accountable.
The organization Fight for a Fair Economy wants banks that foreclose on homes in Cincinnati to pay fees to offset what those foreclosures cost the city.
Activists say those costs include increased police and fire runs, and lowered property values.
There are similar proposals in California, Colorado, Massachusetts and Florida.
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