AUGUST 22 - Congresswoman Kaptur today welcomed the decision by the U.S. Department of Treasury to provide a $60 million boost to combat housing blight in Ohio through demolition of vacant properties.

The Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) has received Treasury’s approval to use up to $60 million from Ohio’s remaining Hardest Hit Funds for demolition efforts. The Thriving Communities Institute estimates that 15,000 vacant houses exist in Cuyahoga County alone.

“Treasury’s decision will help alleviate the demolition bottleneck,” said Congresswoman Kaptur, who has been involved in a bipartisan effort by the Northern Ohio congressional delegation to free up the “Hardest Hit” funds for demolition.

“This allows us to take the important first step in rebuilding and revitalizing neighborhoods that have been devastated by the implosion in the housing market.”

OHFA, an agency of state government, intends to make the funds available in as many as 16 counties in Ohio with established “land banks.”

The Obama Administration launched the Hardest Hit Fund in 2010 to help homeowners to avoid foreclosure in the areas hardest hit by steep home price declines and unemployment.Participating housing finance agencies such as OHFA implemented various initiatives to help homeowners struggling with their mortgage payments.

Kaptur joined with Republican colleague David Joyce (OH-14) on pending legislation to permit the use of “Hardest Hit” funds for demolition of vacant structures. The bill was co-sponsored by seven other members of the Ohio delegation, including Marcia Fudge (OH-11), Tim Ryan (OH-13), and Jim Renacci (OH-16) in Northern Ohio.