Report: Big Banks Leaving Abandoned, Foreclosed Homes in Ohio

Filings in at least three of the state's cities were nearly three times more concentrated in communities of color than in majority white ones.

By Asraa Mustufa May 10, 2011

National People’s Action released a report on Monday that shows the extent of foreclosures in Ohio, one of the states hit hardest by the national housing crisis. The three-city study projects that about one in every 10 homes in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus have received a foreclosure filing since the onset of the national financial crisis in 2007, and that black homeowners were hit especially hard. The homes that banks took have also sat unsold, further depressing the neighborhoods’ economic outlook.

The rate of foreclosures reported in the study area is equal to more than one home falling into foreclosure for every city block, on average, across the three cities since the beginning of 2009. Roughly half of these foreclosure filings were made by the country’s largest banks, including JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America Wells Fargo, Citibank and US Bank. 

The report also found that in the study area, about 40 percent of all homes lost to foreclosure were repossessed by one of these big banks, at rates especially high in African-American communities. Foreclosed homes becoming bank-owned property occurs three and a half times more often in majority African-American areas when compared to neighborhoods with low African-American populations.

Foreclosed homes that sit unsold–held by banks that refuse to market them at their actual, lower value–also exacerbate the problems of housing vacancy in urban communities. The increase in bank-owned properties in the study area created an estimated 10 to 30 percent increase in already high home vacancy rates in impacted neighborhoods of Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus.

Colorlines has previously reported on the disproportionate impact of subprime lending and foreclosures on communities of color, and Ohio’s hardest hit communities tell a similar story. The report finds that foreclosure filings in the Ohio cities were, on average, almost three times more concentrated in communities of color than in majority white areas.

These high rates of foreclosure are not only devastating for the affected homeowners and their families, but also impacts their entire communities. For one thing, foreclosures deplete the local tax base. The foreclosures in the study area will cost local government an estimated $7.8 million in direct expenses, and $30 million in lost property tax revenue. Home property owners in the three cities studied also face an estimated total loss of $1.6 billion in home property values. 

Coincidentally, one of the major banks, JP Morgan Chase, is having their annual shareholder meeting in Columbus on May 17. In response, National People’s Action and the Ohio Organizing Collaborative are organizing a bank accountability rally to demand widespread foreclosure relief and for Attorneys General to act in the interests of homeowners and communities in their ongoing negotiations with big bank servicers.

A previously published version of this article was removed due to technical error.