CLEVELAND — Northeast Ohio housing experts say it's yet another indication of how hard our area was hit by the 2008 housing crash.
According to the latest year end mortgage report by ATTOM Data Solutions, Northeast Ohio has six zip codes where more than half the homeowners have mortgage loans that have a higher balance than what their home is currently worth.
The local zip codes identified in the report are; 44110, 44108, 44112, 44105, 44128 and 44137.
The zip codes makeup Cleveland's Collinwood and Slavic Village neighborhoods, as well as major sections of East Cleveland, Maple Heights and Garfield Heights.
Former Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis told News 5 there are ways to recover housing values in these neighborhoods, but he said it will be a slow and difficult process.
"It's the greatest financial crisis of our lifetime," Rokakis said.
"It's tragic for a lot of reasons. It's tragic because it has proved to be a wealth stripper."
"All those people out there, 65, 70, 75 year old, who because of the mortgage crisis, have seen their houses lose 50, 60, 70 percent of its value."
"One of the critical tools is code enforcement. If you're not doing code enforcement, going after the bad properties, you make it that much harder for those people who are still there."
"A strong home improvement program would be part of the formula. "
"Remove blight, work with people to keep those houses up, code enforcement, all three would be critical tools."
Cuyahoga Land Bank President Gus Frangos told News 5 another remedy is if banks would write down the loans on homes that are underwater.
Frangos said if banks would make targeted adjustments, and reduce loan amounts on homes that have lost significant value, it would dramatically help distressed neighborhoods.
Frangos said loan recalibration would also help banks, who take on plenty of issues when a home is foreclosed or if the homeowner simply walks away from the house.
"Targeted write downs are probably a sensible thing to do," Frangos said.
"This would be especially good in cases where homeowners are doing the right things like paying their mortgage and taxes."
"In too many of these cases the bank ends up holding that property, they have to pay the field servicing costs."
"If they foreclose, they have to pay the taxes on that property. If they own that property, they start getting code enforced."
Meanwhile, Rokakis said Cuyahoga County is just months away from unveiling a new home improvement funding program for low income homeowners, in an effort to improve property values in hard hit neighborhoods.