Ohio asks for piece of Chase DOJ settlement to fight blight

Ohio should get a piece of JP

Morgan Chase mortgage-fraud settlement: editorial

Ohio asks for piece of Chase DOJ settlement to fight blight

Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Cleveland was shot down on technicalities in its effort to hold predatory lenders accountable for the toxic legacy of foreclosed, blighted and tax-delinquent properties in 2008 lawsuit.

But justice may be coming home at last.

A diverse coalition of community activists, housing advocates, land banks, cities, suburbs, counties and members of Congress has launched an unprecedented offensive to secure for Ohio a piece of the $13 billion federal mortgage-fraud settlement with JPMorgan Chase.

The “Ohio Plan” asks for $200 million out of the record settlement that JPMorgan negotiated with the U.S. Department of Justice in November.

The DOJ did not respond to a request for comment in time to meet deadline.

The proposed Ohio payback, spearheaded by land bank guru Jim Rokakis, director of the Thriving Communities Institute at the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, and Frank Ford, senior policy adviser at the Institute who chairs Cleveland’s Vacant and Abandoned Property Action Committee, would be spent on demolition, renovation and foreclosure prevention.

The Ohio Plan focuses on the $4 billion set aside in the JPMorgan settlement to help homeowners cope with the detritus of the foreclosure fallout in neighborhoods across the country. According to a DOJ press release, “that relief will take various forms, including principal forgiveness, loan modification, targeted originations and efforts to reduce blight. An independent monitor will be appointed to determine whether JPMorgan is satisfying its obligations.”

Half of that money has been earmarked for mortgage modification, according to the settlement agreement. The other $2 billion will be spent on additional relief efforts.

That should include relief dollars to Cleveland and other hard-hit Ohio cities, Rokakis and Ford argue.

In Cuyahoga County alone, 522 properties that JPMorgan Chase foreclosed on since 2005 still owe more than $3.1 million in taxes, according to Ford, who used data provided by NEO CANDO at Case Western Reserve University.

The coalition backing the Ohio Plan includes cities such as Shaker Heights and Dayton, land banks in Erie and Mahoning counties, and advocacy groups such as the Coalition on Housing and Homelessness in Ohio.

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