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The promise to tear down 5,000 abandoned homes in Cuy. Co. in three years will be hard to keep

Posted at 5:57 PM, Aug 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-18 18:44:26-04

A NewsChannel 5 investigation reveals the Cuyahoga County demolition program is making steady progress in getting rid of abandoned homes throughout the county, but it is significantly off mark from its original projection.

“The program is moving along very well actually," said Ken Surratt, Cuyahoga County's deputy director of community development.

Nearly two years ago, former county executive Ed Fitzgerald announced the $50 million program, saying 5,000 homes would be torn down in three years.

Nearly two years later, 856 homes have been torn down.

“We’re moving as fast as the cities request the demolitions," added Surratt.

How the program works is the county gives money to cities that apply for it, for the purpose of demolishing homes. The Cuyahoga County Land Bank does the majority of the tear downs.

“Although it is going very well, this is not some simple thing where you walk onto a property and knock some things down," said Gus Frangos, president of the land bank.

The hold up, according to Frangos and Surratt, is the lengthy legal process that cities must go through before they can bulldoze a home.

The county would not give a timeframe as to when all 5,000 home would be torn down. The land bank said it tears down about 900 a year under the program. The city of Cleveland, which demolishes its own abandoned homes using the county funds, said it tears down about 600 a year.

"The county's $50 million program has been the major funding source that we've had for the past year, and in all likelihood it will be for all of 2017 and into 2018," said Ron O'Leary, Cleveland's director of building and housing.

O'Leary said his department will continue to ask the county for money to demolish homes as long as the county has money to do so. He added that crews are working as quickly as possible to get the homes down.

Anyone wanting to report an abandoned home in their neighborhood is encouraged to call the building and housing department in their respective city. For abandoned homes in Cleveland, call 216-664-2007 or email bhcomplaint@city.cleveland.oh.us.