Land Banks: Tools for Community Revitalization


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As of April 2015, Ohio had twenty-two county land banks in operation, which have revitalized hundreds of buildings, including residential homes, skyscrapers, historic theaters, and vacant factories, and have demolished over 15,000 blighted structures.

The Greater Ohio Policy Center’s latest report, “Taking Stock of Ohio County Land Banks: Current Practices and Promising Strategies,” places land banks in the larger context of community revitalization and highlights promising county land bank programs that have the potential to greatly contribute to sustainable economic and community redevelopment throughout Ohio.

Each of Ohio’s 22 county land banks is tailored to their local circumstances, although most have shaped their missions to include the broad goals of:

  1. Stabilizing and strengthening markets—particularly residential neighborhoods—to prevent further decline, and
  2. Clearing a path for private sector re-engagement by lowering barriers through incentives, support, and resources.

Through the study, GOPC identifies changes in local practices and state level policies that would further increase land banks’ effectiveness.  Recommended changes in state level policies include:

  • Give counties the option to forgo holding forfeited land sales in cases in which properties on this list are more of a liability than asset
  • Require county auditors to assess the condition and quality of properties at the same time they are assessed for value
  • Provide immunity to trespassing charges to county land bank officials who enter blighted properties

While Ohio’s county land banks are still early in their development, and many have yet to implement all the tools available to them, “Taking Stock of Ohio’s County Land Banks” concludes that land banks are having impact in their communities and hold great promise for the future.

For more information and a copy of this report please visit “Taking Stock of Ohio County Land Banks: Current Practice and Promising Strategies.”

For other resources on land banking, I suggest you visit the Center for Community Progress’ “Land Bank Information Headquarters.”

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