Ohio’s land bank program is one of the best in the nation and a new law is intended to make sure it stays that way in the future.
Right now, Ohio’s land banks depend on grants from the federal government to fund them. If the federal funding dries up, so does the money for the land bank. Counties are also forced to spend the money according to federal guidelines. For example, if the grant is for tearing down houses, you can’t use it to target industrial sites even if that’s a bigger problem in your county.
According to and Lawrence County Land Bank Administrator Thomas Schneider, House Bill 252 will not only guarantee permanent funding but also give control back to the counties as to how best to spend the money. This law would make the funding a permanent item in Ohio’s budget and spend Ohio R100 million over a two-year-period fo Ohio land banks. The bill would allow land bank money to be spent for demolition or rehabilitation of residential, commercial, or industrial properties at the discretion of each county’s land bank. “We don’t have the same problems as Franklin County. We don’t even have the exact same problems as Gallia and Scioto.”
Lawrence County Treasurer Stephen Burcham says its an investment in the future. “When a company is ready to come in, they want a shovel-ready project. They’re not wanting to look at a building that needs to be torn down.”
He also said that removing these blighted structures gets rid of places where addicts flop or dealers sell drugs, helping to keep crime under control.