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Press Release

Eliminating housing blight in Cuyahoga County: Demolition or rehabilitation?

A Cleveland Fed analyst says the diversity in the county’s real estate markets requires pursuing both strategies

Many of the region’s housing markets, such as those in Cuyahoga County, are still facing the realities of living in a post-housing-crisis economy, and communities must make decisions about how to address blighted structures in order to stabilize neighborhoods. However, making those decisions can be complicated. What makes Cuyahoga County a prime candidate for demolition also makes it a prime candidate to consider rehabilitation of the existing housing stock according to an article published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

The article notes that Ohio’s blight elimination program, the Neighborhood Initiative Program, describes a blighted structure as meeting several conditions, vacancy chief among them, that when “collectively considered, adversely affect surrounding or community property values.” To address the problem of blight in neighborhoods, the US Department of the Treasury allowed Hardest Hit Fund (HHF) dollars to be used for blight elimination, but only through demolition. (HHF is an initiative started in 2010 as part of a strategy to restore stability to housing markets.) The Cuyahoga Land Bank, for example, was allocated $57.9 million for demolition use.

But the Cleveland Fed article notes that there are diverse perspectives and opinions around the need for demolition. Some community development practitioners believe demolition, which is often less expensive than rehabilitation, allows for an increased range of growth possibilities. But others view rehabilitation as an investment in a neighborhood and say demolition would destroy the fabric of the neighborhoods.

Kyle Fee, one of the authors of the Cleveland Fed article and a regional community development advisor at the Reserve Bank, notes that there is some common ground concerning the need for both strategies. However, he says the exact combination of the two strategies required to produce the best results is less clear. Moreover, he says the diversity in Cuyahoga County’s real estate markets requires pursuing tailored demolition-rehabilitation strategies to meet the needs of each local market.

Read Stabilizing Local Housing Markets in Cuyahoga County: Blight Elimination

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that along with the Board of Governors in Washington DC comprise the Federal Reserve System. Part of the US central bank, the Cleveland Fed participates in the formulation of our nation’s monetary policy, supervises banking organizations, provides payment and other services to financial institutions and to the US Treasury, and performs many activities that support Federal Reserve operations System-wide. In addition, the Bank supports the well-being of communities across the Fourth Federal Reserve District through a wide array of research, outreach, and educational activities.

The Cleveland Fed, with branches in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, serves an area that comprises Ohio, western Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia.

Media contact

Doug Campbell,, 513.455.4479