All across Ohio, homes are still being foreclosed on even though the papers are saying that the economy is getting better. Just yesterday The Plain Dealer printed an article saying that economic growth in Ohio is steady. While that may be true for businesses, it is sure hard to tell from the amount of foreclosed homes in Ohio.
Earlier this year, Policy Matters Ohio issued a report showing that in Ohio foreclosures continue to grow, despite so called economic recovery. “While urban counties continue to lead the state in foreclosure filings, smaller and less urban counties are experiencing larger growth rates.” This does not sound like economic recovery to me. Cuyahoga County, where the city of Cleveland is located, still leads the state of Ohio in the highest foreclosure home rate. This is not a competition that Cuyahoga County wants to be winning.
Minorities are especially hard hit in Greater Cleveland, according to Teresa Dixon Murray of The Plain Dealer. She quotes a study “Paying More for the American Dream” that used data reported by lenders to government regulators to calculate the statistics. Homeowners that are living in neighborhoods of Cleveland with more than 80 percent minorities were rejected for a refinance loan 60 percent of the time. Homeowners in neighborhoods that were more than 90 percent white were rejected only 19 percent of the time. Part of the problem is that a lot of subprime lending was targeted to minority populations and urban homeowners, however even middle class communities with higher minority populations like Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights, and Euclid were also affected.
While many people in large urban cities like Cleveland are still hunting for scarce jobs, they are also struggling to pay their bills, and that includes mortgages. Banks are acting less as banks, and more as if they were real estate companies, holding the deeds to many foreclosed homes in Ohio that often sit empty for months while deteriorating conditions makes them harder and harder to sell. Many of the foreclosed homes do not have regular care, thereby causing pest problems, burst pipes in the winter, and other conditions caused by neglect. To top it off, when homes like this are in the process of being sold, many lenders are reluctant to create mortgages for potential owners which then causes the foreclosed homes to sit empty even longer.
Sandy Pianalto, president of the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank, was quoted in March at a speech at the University of Akron, that average household income excluding government benefits remains down nearly 7 percent from 2007 levels. “With incomes remaining weak, many households have not been able to rebuild much of the wealth they lost during the recession as their home values declined and their financial investments fell sharply,” she said. With this the case, and so many properties owned by banks, new home construction is still down, and property values quite low.
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