Multimillion dollar campaign to fight blight gets boost

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - A new multi-million dollar campaign to tear down abandoned houses in Lucas County is receiving a major financial boost.

Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz said the county's land bank will be starting a $6.8 million campaign in August to tear down up to 900 vacant houses in Toledo and across the county.

"Locally the land bank was able to secure $3.1 million, as part of the Attorney General settlement with the mortgage companies that helped cause this mortgage crisis. They'll match that $3.1 million," said Kapszukiewicz.

Kapszukiewicz said they are compiling a list of targeted properties, so the city of Toledo and private demolition crews can get to work the moment the funding clock begins ticking.

"Seventeen months is the timeline. Starts Aug. 1. We have to spend the money, demolish the homes by December 31, 2013," said Kapszukiewicz.

Kapszukiewicz believes it will be money well spent to help property owners who are doing their part to maintain what they have.

"Their values go down when vacant homes pop up next door," said Kapszukiewicz.

Reviving property values starts but does not end with removing blight, Kapszukiewicz said.

"We can't take the next step, which is putting in attractive green space, community gardens, maybe a new structure, park land, whatever that next step is, can't be taken until we take the necessary first step of eliminating this blight," said Kapszukiewicz.

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