Reclaiming Our Community Together

Foreclosure signs by Occupy Cincinnati hang from doorsOn April 21, Working In Neighborhoods released our annual study of foreclosures in Hamilton County. While the foreclosures in our community decreased by 17.5%, there were still 2,418 Hamilton County families who lost their home to foreclosure in 2013. Foreclosure numbers are improving, but the crisis is far from over. In the past 7 years, a total of 22,190 Hamilton County families lost their homes.

If a natural disaster displaced 2,418 families in Hamilton County, our community would pull together, marshall our resources, and address the problem head-on. We must respond to this crisis with the same amount of energy and creativity. We must repair the damage cause by foreclosures if our community stands a chance of moving forward.

Foreclosures in our community have hurt all of us. We have seen the median value of all properties in Hamilton County fall from a high of $135,000 in 2006 to a low of $112,000 in 2013. Last year, properties sold at Sheriff’s Sale for average of $48,000. What’s more, many of our neighborhoods are left with multiple vacant homes that decrease property values and make our communities less desirable places to live.

In 2014, how do we round this corner and recover from the foreclosure crisis? We must raise home values in our community in order to save our residents’ investments and to encourage the growth of home ownership in Hamilton County. There is an ongoing effort to demolish vacant, foreclosed homes in our community, but this approach only leaves us with vacant lots that need to be maintained.

A better solution is to return vacant homes and vacant lots to productive uses. We must renovate the vacant homes and keep our residents and our investments in Hamilton County. As public money dwindles, it is even more important for our community to raise private dollars. We know that foundations alone cannot address this need, so we need to create partnerships with every corporation and investor in our community so that we can work to repair the damage and move forward. We must call on lending institutions to inevst in renovation and stabilization projects across Hamilton County. We must also call on them to work with distressed homeowners so that the number of new foreclosures continues to decrease.

We know that Greater Cincinnati is comprised of residents and businesses who are proud and passionate about about the future of our community. We have seen over and over the generous response of our community to crisis. Now is the time to rebuild our neighborhoods and move toward a more prosperous future for all of us.