The mission of the Cuyahoga Land Bank is to strategically acquire properties, return them to productive use, reduce blight, increase property values, support community goals and improve the quality of life for county residents.
When Cuyahoga County found itself at the epicenter of the nationwide foreclosure crisis starting in 2006, a collaborative group of minds, including then Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis, current Land Bank President and General Counsel Gus Frangos, Senators Tim Grendel, Bob Spada and chief legislative sponsor Tom Patton, State Representative Matt Dolan, Cleveland Council Members Jay Westbrook and Tony Brancatelli and members of the county's non-profit and academic community came together to do something about it. These efforts resulted in innovative approaches and policies and the formation of the Cuyahoga County Land Bank as a separate non-profit, government-purposed entity tasked to:
- strategically acquire blighted properties
- return them to productive use through
- a. rehabilitation
- b. sale to new private owners
- c. demolition
- d. preparation for traditional economic development
- e. creative reuse such as gardening, green space, storm water management
- or other innovative and ecological purposes
- increase property values through these efforts
- support community goals through collaborations with Cuyahoga's individual
communities, governments, lenders, and individual property owners;
- and improve the quality of life for Cuyahoga County's residents through its efforts
The Cuyahoga Land Bank is funded by a variety of sources. The primary funding comes from the accumulation of penalties and interest on collected delinquent real estate taxes and assessments. Because much of this particular funding results from the addition of penalty and interest on collected delinquent real estate taxes, very little if any primary levied taxes are used to fund the operations of the Land Bank. This primary revenue stream is supplemented by grants from the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s partners, the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s sale of acquired properties to qualified rehabbers and housing developers, as well as the donations and recoupment of funds from various banks.
The Cuyahoga Land Bank has the ability to acquire vacant and abandoned foreclosed properties from a variety of sources, including those held by banks, by government sponsored enterprises such as Fannie Mae, or by federal and state agencies, such as HUD, as well as real estate lost to tax foreclosure and donated properties.
Each city in Cuyahoga County is a major partner regarding decisions about the future of Land Bank-owned properties within its borders. For example, the Land Bank’s partnership with the City of Cleveland, which has its own land bank, includes handing over title to all vacant land after completing demolition. The goal of the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s partnerships with local municipalities is to promote collaboration, spread risk and to make joint code enforcement and nuisance abatement operations possible.