CUYAHOGA COUNTY - New findings show progress is being made in the ongoing battle against blight in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County.
The findings have been submitted to Mayor Frank Jackson who is supposed to comment on the condition of vacant and abandoned properties at his state of the city address this week.
Frank Ford, the Senior Policy Advisor for the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, spearheaded an update of property inventory in Cleveland and the county. Ford is encouraged by what his group found.
"Three or four years ago, it felt more hopeless because we didn't have the resources to deal with this,"Ford said.
Run-down and neglected properties have long been hiding places for undesirables. The recent discovery of 14-year-old Alianna DeFreeze's body in an abandoned house placed renewed emphasis on the demolition of vacant properties.
Ford says there were 16,000 vacant properties in Cleveland four or five years ago. "Now that number is down to 8,000," said Ford.
Of those 8,000, Ford said 50 percent or about 4,000 need to be demolished.
"There's a question of how fast we can do that. We might need to ramp it up a notch to make sure we can remove these houses in the next several years," Ford said.
In Cuyahoga County, Ford said approximately 7,200 of the 15,474 vacant homes will need to be taken down. Ford said 86 percent of those properties are in Cleveland and East Cleveland.
Cleveland NAACP President Mike Nelson complained about a house in the Glenville neighborhood at the corner of E. 100th and Garfield. He said that no other community would not allow it to still stand.
"That house is darn near ready to blow over. It's intolerable. And its symbolic of the benign neglect that has been taking place in this city," Nelson said.
Councilman Kevi Conwell represents the neighborhood and promised the run-down home would be demolished in three months.
"It's going to come down because it needs to come down, " Conwell said. He explained it hadn't been scheduled for demolition because he believed there were houses in even worse shape than the one Nelson complained about.
"Some houses were falling into the street and near schools around children," he said. "But this one will be taken down. I promise you."
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