In a sign of the spreading economic fallout of mortgage foreclosures, several suburbs of Cleveland, one of the nation’s hardest-hit cities, are spending millions of dollars to maintain vacant houses as they try to contain blight and real-estate panic.
The suburbs here are among the best organized in their counterattack, experts say, but many suburbs elsewhere in the country have had jumps in foreclosures and are also working to stem the damage.
Euclid has installed alarm systems in some vacant houses to keep out people hoping to steal lights and other fixtures, drug users and squatters. The city has hired three new building inspectors, bringing the total to nine, to deal with troubled properties and is getting a $1 million loan from the county to cover the costs of rehabilitation, demolition and lawn care at the foreclosed houses. (When the properties are sold, such direct maintenance costs will be recovered through tax assessments.)
The Euclid mayor, Bill Cervenik, said the city, with a population of 53,000, was losing $750,000 a year in property taxes from the empty houses.