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Bouncing Back

Report documents foreclosure crisis and community response in Greater Cleveland.

The subprime mortgage crisis left tens of thousands of foreclosed homes in its wake, more than 10,000 in the Greater Cleveland area alone, according to a new report.

forclosed home in Cleveland, Ohio

But new research from Case Western Reserve University's Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development, Cleveland State University and the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland does more than illuminate grim statistics-it also documents how community groups mobilized to respond to the crisis.

The study's co-authors, Claudia Coulton from Case Western Reserve and Kathy Hexter from Cleveland State University, say they hope sharing Cleveland's story can help other cities in their own struggles.

"Facing the Foreclosure Crisis in Cleveland: What Happened and How Communities Are Responding" weaves together research from previous studies conducted by the poverty center, providing dozens of examples of community responses, ranging from government reform and legislation to counseling and prevention initiatives.

According to the report, subprime mortgages rapidly replaced conventional loans as the primary means of home financing in some sections of Cleveland, as well as in other cities and suburbs in Cuyahoga County. By 2005, more than 10,000 foreclosures were filed on residential properties in a single year.

A growing number of the properties then entered prolonged periods of vacancy, stuck either in the foreclosure process or in REO-real estate owned properties that have been foreclosed and failed to sell.

Untended properties deteriorated and were often vandalized. The value of housing stock plummeted, leading speculators to buy REO properties in some neighborhoods in bulk at drastically reduced prices. Neighborhoods with large African-American populations were particularly hard, according to the report.

But Greater Cleveland did not sit idly by-the report also documents the community's response. Local governments, non-profits and community groups mobilized to educate potential homebuyers, prevent foreclosures and rehabilitate vacant properties. They have coordinated their efforts and responded strategically, using data to drive their actions. The report shows that groups have worked to address issues on the ground and at the policy level, working to prevent a similar crisis from happening again.

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