DeWine, others use Toledo stop to tout progress of home demolition program


Local officials and state Attorney General Mike DeWine watched as a city demolition excavator took down an abandoned house at 927 Brewster St. in central city Toledo today.

The house is the 340th to come down as part of a program funded through the Ohio Attorney General's office and Lucas County to remove at least 900 blighted old homes over 18 months. The attorney general's office put up $3.7 million and the money is being matched by $3.2 million from the Lucas County Land Bank operated through the Lucas County treasurer.

City operator Ken Hayes operated the excavator that demolished the two-story home in a neighborhood that appears to be full of vacant or neglected homes.

Mr. DeWine said the money came from a settlement reached between mortgage service businesses and the state attorneys general over the so-called robo-signing of mortgage documents and other misdeeds by banks that helped precipitate the 2008 mortgage crisis.

Pointing to the building about to be torn down, Mr. DeWine said, "imagine you lived in a neighborhood with a house like that." He said he wanted some of the money to be spent in neighborhoods that were damaged by the crisis. He said no other state targeted its money to the extent that Ohio has.

About $200 million was distributed to victims of robo-signing, leaving about $93 million to be distributed around the state to help eliminate the blight that was partially caused by the mortgage crisis.

Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz said the program is on goal to complete 900 demolitions by the end of the year.

"In some ways it's sad when a home comes down. These homes aren't doing anyone any good," Mr. Kapszukiewicz said. "The Land Bank program isn't about this vacant home. It's about all the homes around it that have seen their values come down."