Summit County’s experience with foreclosures closely parallels that of its adjacent county to the north, Cuyahoga. Foreclosures tied to subprime lending and property flipping became apparent in 2002. The county is now experiencing increasing foreclosure rates due to the economy, although officials have noted a new wave of predatory lenders.
Summit County (not including Akron, which is its own HUD entitlement community) received $3.7 million in NSP I funds. Although the county has been able to obtain REO property using avenues created by the National Community Stabilization Trust and the REO Clearinghouse, their local nonprofit partners have not been successful bidding against investors for desirable properties. Due to the delays in the NSP draw down process, investors are able to more quickly put up cash for properties.
Summit County’s NSP target areas include 25 block groups in six different communities: Norton, Springfield, Copley, Twinsburg, Barberton, and Lakemore. The county has been frustrated by its inability to use NSP funds outside defined target areas in ways that would promote overall community stabilization, particularly as areas of greatest need change over time. Blighted houses that are literally across the street from an NSP target area cannot be addressed with NSP funds. Implementing NSP has been complicated as HUD has tweaked program requirements to respond to the need to make the program more flexible. Officials are also disappointed that the NSP program does not provide resources to help families who are facing foreclosure stay in their homes, stating that preventing foreclosures prevents vacancies and is an effective frontline strategy for preserving and promoting stable neighborhoods.
Summit County is leveraging its NSP with HOME funds to accomplish overall stabilization goals. It in fact modeled its NSP plan after the HOME program. NSP contracts went to nonprofit organizations that have existing HOME contracts with the county to fulfill the demolition and the purchase/rehab portions of its NSP plan. These community partners were experienced at community development housing project execution, and training only further enhanced their ability to negotiate the parameters of NSP. The county has also been able to leverage its NSP funds with a LIHTC project in Barberton (the rehabilitation of an apartment complex).
Summit County Community and Economic Development Department