Demo deadline pushed back

WARREN – With the deadline to apply for Moving Ohio Forward funds being moved to May 31, 2014, Mayor Doug Franklin hopes to more creatively use the money available to the city.

Communities originally had until Dec. 31 to raze houses to receive their grant allocations.

Moving Ohio Forward is a program that is using money from a 2012 national mortgage settlement with the mortgage servicers Ally, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

Of Ohio’s share, $75 million for demolition was directed by the state attorney general’s office to go to all of Ohio’s counties based on the percentage of foreclosures filed in each county between 2008 and 2011.

Trumbull County is eligible to receive about $1.27 million of the total grant. Local communities are providing dollar-for-dollar matches to do demolitions. Warren provided approximately $500,000 as a local match to obtain the $500,000 available from the grant program.

“I am pleased with the progress made by communities to raze abandoned and blighted homes,” Attorney General Mike DeWine stated in a news release.

“By extending the deadline through late spring, we hope that counties will continue to take advantage of the funds available to them to get rid of abandoned homes that have attracted crime and are community eyesores,” DeWine said.

Several counties have asked for the extension due to wet and rainy conditions this spring. Finding qualified demolition contractors was also an issue in some areas.

“I always felt there was a chance this would happen,” Franklin said. “However, we have been moving at a pace that would allow us to meet the Dec. 31 deadline.

“Even with this extension, we will continue to be aggressive and work to complete the process before the end of the year,” he said.

Warren administration officials came under fire earlier this summer for conducting just one demolition by early July. The extended deadline, however, may help the city obtain more competitive prices and, perhaps, lower the cost for demolitions.

Earlier this year, Safety-Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa said he expected the city to have all the bids for the demolitions using Moving Ohio Forward funds to be awarded before the end of September.

City officials have been projecting it may be able to demolish between 100 and 125 homes with the money, depending on the bids.

To date, the Attorney General’s Office has reimbursed Ohio counties more than $22.3 million and documented a total of more than $36.6 million in the demolition of more than 4,700 units. The average cost per demolition is $7,700.

Trumbull County has been reimbursed about $30,600 of the $1.27 million available to it.

With the extension, each county has additional time to spend all of their current funds, and also time to determine if they want to use their full allocation based on the demolition needs within their county.