CLEVELAND — Experts are calling it a long term post housing crisis hangover, a growing number of abandoned homes plaguing several Northeast Ohio neighborhoods.
The latest numbers from ATTOM Data Solutions breaks down the six hardest hit areas, zip code by zip code
In some cases the neighborhoods with the highest vacancy rates are more than three times high than the state average.
The data indicates ZIP Code 44137, Maple Heights, has 7% of its housing stock left vacant; 44103, the St. Clair-Superior neighborhood, 11% vacant; 44105, Garfield Heights, 13% vacant; 44127 Cleveland's Broadway historic district, 14% vacant; 44112, East Cleveland at 15.3%, and 44108 Cleveland's Glenville neighborhood, at nearly 16% unoccupied.
Cleveland Councilman Michael Polensek told News 5 the Cuyahoga County population drop of some 4,500 residents in 2018, coupled with dropping property reassessments in these neighborhoods are to blame for the growing vacancy rates.
"The sheer volume of structures that are sitting out there unoccupied, who's going to maintain them," Polensek said.
"When Cuyahoga County dramatically dropped property values in these neighborhoods, they don't know what they're doing to the big picture, they are destabilizing neighborhoods once again."
"That's why the county really has to sit down with the city. As the city tries to stabilize neighborhoods we need a partner from the county. They need to sit down with city planning."
Cleveland Councilman Kevin Conwell said the Glenville neighborhood in his ward has been hit particularly hard.
Conwell partly blamed discriminatory lending practices by local banks in granting African American homeowners mortgages and home improvement loans.
He said more people are prone to walking away from distressed properties without access to home improvement dollars.
"I mean that's crazy that you can't get a loan in Glenville, Hough or Fairfax," Conwell said.
"They need to loan in the African American community. People can't get their houses rehabbed, they can't get their homes repaired. You know, gutters, roofs, windows, porches."
Former Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis, now with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, told News 5 additional dollars must be found to take down 4,500 blighted homes, in an effort to increase property values and reduced the number of vacant homes.
Rokakis said it's also critical funding for new development be found in northeast Ohio's hardest hit neighborhoods.
"Until there is something that brings people back, new housing, new developments, something that gives people the confidence they need to stay, it's only going to get worse," Rokakis said.
"It's a crisis that is now almost 20 years old, and continues to bite us on the back side."
Northeast Ohio also has six ZIP Codes where more than half the homeowners owe more on their homes than what they're worth.