Monday, July 9, 2012

Cincinnati council funds foreclosure pilot program

At its June 26 meeting, Cincinnati City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to expand its hazard abatement program fund to pay for its new Vacant Foreclosure Registration Pilot Program (VFRP).

VFRP requires mortgagees of vacant, foreclosed properties in five City neighborhoods – College Hill, East Price Hill, Madisonville, West Price Hill, and Westwood – to register each property with the City's Property Maintenance Code Enforcement Division within ten days of foreclosure and to pay an annual $500 registration fee. An annual filing is required until the property is sold at a judicial sale, is transferred to an owner-occupant, or makes its way into the hands of a third party.

Banks will also have to refrain from posting signs or placards indicating that the property is vacant or foreclosed, keep the grass and weeds to ten inches or less in height, keep the property litter-free, and make sure that the structure is secure and locked.

Before any sale, a point-of-sale inspection will detail any code violations that would need to be fixed. If not addressed within 30 days, the City could perform the work and place a tax lien on the property.

The goal of the program is to ensure that properties don't fall into disrepair and that lenders don't "walk away" from their obligations, leaving public hazards and lowering surrounding property values.

According to a study on 2011 foreclosure activity released in April by Working In Neighborhoods, 320 properties within the five neighborhoods would have qualified for the program last year.

The total annual cost for the program is $450,000, of which $157,000 will go to staff costs – leaving enough funding available to repair 30 buildings.

VFRP fees will be added to Vacant Building Maintenance License fees and recovered payments for City barricading and demolition work that already fund the hazard abatement program.

Previous reading on BC:
Cincinnati approves foreclosure pilot program for five neighborhoods (6/14/12)
Report: Foreclosure filings down for second year in a row, but caution urged (4/27/12)
City administration supports foreclosure pilot program (4/3/12)
Foreclosure report shows 2010 filings down, losses up (4/4/11)
Foreclosed properties getting a makeover in Westwood, Kennedy Heights (3/24/11)