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Countywide Land Banks Tackle Vacancy and Blight

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Winter 2014   


        Vacant and Abandoned Properties: Turning Liabilities Into Assets
        Targeting Strategies for Neighborhood Development
        Countywide Land Banks Tackle Vacancy and Blight
        Temporary Urbanism: Alternative Approaches to Vacant Land

Countywide Land Banks Tackle Vacancy and Blight


      • Early land banks were often statutorily limited in their jurisdiction, but over the years they have been given increasing authority to work regionally and actively acquire properties.
      • In Cuyahoga County, Ohio the land bank strategically acquires properties to effect larger-scale interventions and has multiple independent sources of funding and a well-organized inventory management database.
      • The Fulton County/City of Atlanta Land Bank is an early example of a land bank developed to work across jurisdictions; recent state legal changes have given it the ability to fund itself by capturing a percentage of the taxes generated by the properties it returns to productive use.

Communities have long struggled with the detrimental effects of abandoned, vacant properties and blight, whether the result of economic decline, disinvestment, or, more recently, the foreclosure crisis. To tackle the problem, many jurisdictions are turning to land banks. Governmental or nonprofit entities authorized by state and local legislation, land banks acquire properties that are vacant, blighted, or abandoned and return them to productive use. Depending on the enabling legislation, land banks have the authority to enforce municipal codes, demolish vacant structures, and refurbish and sell properties to responsible owners. Some of these entities can clear titles, extinguish property taxes on abandoned structures, or acquire and hold properties for future public use.1 Regardless of their powers, land banks can be flexible and effective tools for bringing abandoned properties back into active uses that contribute to local property tax coffers, advance communal goals for more green space, and increase the local supply of affordable homes. At the same time, the land banks’ efforts reduce blight, enhance public safety, stabilize communities, and rehabilitate properties that the real estate market cannot process efficiently. In these ways, land banks combat both the direct and indirect costs of vacant properties (see “Vacant and Abandoned Properties: Turning Liabilities Into Assets”).

Land Banks Over the Years

The nation’s first land banks were established in St. Louis, Missouri in 1971 and Cleveland, Ohio in 1976. Both land banks were enabled by state statutes and enacted by local ordinances. Louisville, Kentucky (1989) and Atlanta (1991) followed, aided by state legislation and intergovernmental agreements.2 According to Frank S. Alexander, professor at Emory University School of Law and a leading authority on land banks, this first generation of land banks was “created in response to growing inventories of tax-foreclosed properties stuck in legal limbo” because the taxes and penalties owed on properties far exceeded their fair-market value, making them impossible to sell.3 Thus, although conditions in the cities varied, these early land banks shared the common goal of providing local governments a new way of gaining access to the tax-foreclosed inventory and conveying these properties back to the market.

These first generation land banks acquired properties passively; for example, properties that failed to sell at sheriffs’ sales automatically reverted to them. This mechanism, however, left land banks with a glut of blighted properties that were liabilities. The land banks also lacked their own financing mechanisms, which hindered their capacity to actively acquire properties. Equally important, tax foreclosure laws were largely not updated during this time, which meant that the land banks were left to contend with complex tax liens and long waiting periods in their quest for property redevelopment.4

A dilapidated, tax-foreclosed single-family home on a weedy and junk-strewn lot with broken, boarded-over windows and remnants of a concrete driveway.
The Genesee County Land Bank Authority works to ensure productive reuse of tax-foreclosed properties in the city of Flint and Genesee County, Michigan.
In the early 2000s, states began revising their land bank and tax laws, leading to a second generation of land banks. These institutions, says Alexander, were inspired partly by local government leaders who realized the magnitude of their cities’ “dead inventory — specifically, properties for which there was no market demand.”5 Emblematic of this approach is Michigan’s Land Bank Fast Track Act, passed by the state legislature in 2003.6 The law created self-funding mechanisms for land banks, allowed land banks to acquire all tax-foreclosed properties, and empowered Michigan land banks to demolish and rehabilitate properties through code enforcement. Before passing the Fast Track Act, Michigan’s legislature had streamlined the state’s tax-foreclosure process, shortening it from seven to two years.7 Together, these laws enabled institutions such as the Genesee County Land Bank Authority to effect real change in the state. The Genesee Land Bank operates various programs designed to ensure productive reuse of tax-foreclosed properties in the city of Flint and Genesee County, such as housing renovation, the transfer of vacant lots to adjacent property owners, a Clean and Green initiative (in which vacant lots are converted into gardens and green space), demolition, and brownfield redevelopment.8 The Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation, described later in this article, is another second generation land bank empowered by state legislative reforms in Ohio.

The third and most recent generation of land banks arose out of the foreclosure crisis, which has led to abandonment not only in declining industrial cities but also in metropolitan areas throughout the country. These newest land banks, supported by state statutes, “give maximum powers to the local governments that want to create a land bank authority to acquire, maintain, and repurpose these properties,” says Alexander.9

New legal tools have made these second and third generation land banks considerably more nimble than their predecessors. Their potential jurisdiction has expanded geographically with enhanced powers for intergovernmental and regional collaboration, which is especially important for rural areas that benefit from economies of scale.10 In addition, land banks can now actively acquire properties — even foreclose on tax-delinquent ones — rather than passively wait for properties to default to them. Finally, modern land banks have independent revenue sources and structures that not only grant them autonomy from local government but also allow greater independence and capacity to complete more robust and strategic interventions.11

This article describes two countywide land banks, the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation in Ohio and the Fulton County/City of Atlanta Land Bank Authority in Georgia, to illustrate how land banks are helping communities confront vacancy and blight. Both land banks are empowered by state laws with regional authority, independent funding sources, and the power to engage in code enforcement and property management.

Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation

Most of Cleveland’s housing stock was built following World War I, primarily for working-class families who made their living in the area’s factories and mills.12 Suburbanization and the flight of the manufacturing sector to cheaper markets, however, sent the city’s population tumbling from its peak of 914,818 in 1950 to 397,000 in 2010. By 2010, 19 percent of the city’s housing was vacant; another 8.8 percent was classified “other vacant,” which includes foreclosed homes not on the market.13

More recently, disinvestment and vacancy have struck Cleveland’s suburbs as well. Between 1995 and 2007, residential foreclosures in Cuyahoga County more than quadrupled.14 Real-estate flippers, who bought distressed homes and then sold them at a profit after making only superficial repairs, further hurt Cleveland. In addition, says Kermit J. Lind, clinical professor of law emeritus at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, unscrupulous lenders targeted vulnerable communities within the city, “flooding such areas with high-risk loans, many of which were predatory and fraudulent.” By 2005, the number of foreclosures was so high that the Cuyahoga County Court needed an average of two years, and up to four or five, to resolve foreclosure cases.15 Foreclosures in the county peaked at more than 14,000 in 2007; since then, the number of foreclosures, although still high, has begun to decline, reaching 11,427 in 2012.16 The foreclosure crisis has hit low- and middle-income neighborhoods especially hard; 48.8 percent of foreclosures in 2007 took place in 15 of Cuyahoga County’s 95 neighborhoods. Although the pace of foreclosures has slackened, the area is still coping with the aftermath of years of staggering foreclosure rates.17

An Active Land Bank

A before and after picture of a bungalow bought in disrepair and renovated.
This bungalow-style home was acquired and renovated by the Cuyahoga Land Bank.
Photo courtesy: Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation
Seeking to address the foreclosure crisis and surfeit of vacant buildings, a diverse group of stakeholders, including state senators, members of the Cleveland City Council, academics from Case Western University, and nonprofit leaders supported the creation of a regional land bank authority. In 2009, the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation, commonly known as the Cuyahoga Land Bank (CLB), was authorized by state statute SB 353 as a nonprofit corporation with a nine-person board that includes the Cuyahoga County treasurer, the county executive (or designated representative), one member of the County Council, and two Cleveland representatives. The remaining four members are chosen by the county executive, county treasurer, and County Council representative. An independent staff of more than two dozen is responsible for the land bank’s operations. SB 353 specifies that CLB is an active land bank, which means that it can buy, manage, and lease properties. CLB can also engage in code enforcement, allowing it to demolish and rehabilitate properties.18

CLB acquires properties in several ways. Through a limited-time discount sales agreement, HUD sells properties valued at up to $20,000 to the land bank for $100 each.19 Private banks such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America donate foreclosed and vacant properties. CLB can also acquire properties by buying parcels’ tax lien certificates and through tax foreclosures.20 Strategic acquisition of properties, particularly adjacent ones, empowers CLB to effect larger-scale interventions, such as creating green space, that help stabilize neighborhoods.

Among the problems that CLB is addressing is the area’s enormous stock of vacant homes. To reduce this surplus volume, demolition is a critical strategy. “We have a housing stock that was designed for a million people, and there are only about 365,000 people now. Aside from a few areas, we’re still losing population. There is no indication that in 5, 10, or 20 years we’re going to have a million people,” explains Gus Frangos, president and general counsel of CLB.21 Rehabilitation is viable only if a market exists for those rehabilitated homes. Equally important, the county cannot afford to demolish all of the homes that need to be razed. Thus, the land bank demolishes about 60 percent of the properties it acquires — some 2,000 properties since 2009.22

The remaining 40 percent of homes that CLB acquires are rehabilitated by the land bank, individuals, or by partner organizations. Some of these rehabilitations are supported by programs that offer incentives for renovation and owner occupancy. As an example, in April 2013, CLB partnered with the city of Euclid and the Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland to launch the Advantage Plus Loan Program, which provides Euclid homebuyers with up to $10,000 in 2 percent loans for rehabilitation.23 Through the HomeFront Veterans Home Ownership Program, a pilot program launched in November 2013 and funded with $100,000 from the Cuyahoga County Council’s Veterans Services Fund, CLB offers eligible veterans discounts of up to 20 percent of the cost of a land bank home and covers the closing costs. As with the land bank’s other programs that focus on individual homeowners, HomeFront requires that owners keep the property as their primary residence for a minimum of 2 years and rehabilitate the property in accordance with land bank standards; in addition, they must have been employed for at least the past 12 months.24 Finally, the land bank works with social service agencies such as sober-living programs and refugee development centers to provide their clients with a place to live.

A work crew in hardhats operating heavy equipment to demolish a vacant, abandoned brick apartment building.
Demolitions are a critical part of the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s operations given the large number of vacant and abandoned properties in the region.
Photo courtesy: Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation
These rehabilitation efforts have the added value of restoring properties to the tax rolls. To cast the potential gains in sharp relief, consider that 25,000 abandoned properties spread throughout 8 cities in Ohio cost their municipalities more than “$49 million in cumulative lost property tax revenues.”25 The land bank’s demolition and rehabilitation activities also address the problem of home flippers: speculators who sell properties in poor condition, without bringing them up to code, thereby continuing the cycle of abandonment and tax default. Through its deed-in-escrow program and strategic demolitions, the land bank blocks speculators, ensures that responsible occupants take control of homes, and holds home rehabilitations to proper standards.26

Rehabilitation and related activities, and the time it takes to assess each property, mean that the land bank holds about 1,000 to 1,500 properties at any given time, each requiring upkeep pending demolition or renovation. To that end, the CLB has put together workforce programs that train participants in entrepreneurial skills such as estimating, and include hands-on training in drywall installation and construction.27 The land bank also works with institutions such as Koinonia Homes, a social service provider; its intellectually and developmentally disabled clients mow lawns and do other similar maintenance.28 Through emphasis on employment opportunity, the land bank accomplishes its goal of fixing homes while also benefiting community residents, including recent immigrants, veterans, and others.

Funding Sources

CLB has multiple independent sources of funding. At the operational level, these sources include penalties and interest on collected delinquent real estate taxes that amount to $7 million annually. An important funding source is the land bank’s deed-in-escrow program, through which the land bank sells homes for renovation. The program, which brings in about $1.5 million each year through low-cost sales, stipulates that buyers rehabilitate their homes according to standards set by the land bank. While renovations are underway, CLB holds the deed to the home in escrow. Once the renovations are complete, the homebuyer pays the escrow agent for the house. The land bank conducts commercial research for private clients as another source of revenue. In addition, CLB makes money on demolition. As an example, through a 2009 agreement, Fannie Mae sells vacant, blighted homes to the land bank for $1 and pays the land bank at least $3,500 per demolition. Although offloading these homes for demolition seems at first to be a counterintuitive strategy, Frangos says that doing so prevents the homes from becoming a liability for Fannie Mae. Giving the homes to CLB for demolition — even though Fannie Mae pays to do so — saves Fannie Mae money it would otherwise spend on taxes, upkeep, and judicial procedures in housing court and eliminates the risk of arson and other problems. Finally, CLB also raises money by issuing bonds, applying for grants, making loans, and borrowing funds.29

In recent years, the CLB has also received funds from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). With a consortium of governmental institutions including the Cuyahoga County Department of Development, the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, and the City of Cleveland Department of Community Development, the land bank applied for and received $40.8 million from NSP 2; of this amount, approximately $7.45 million went directly to CLB for demolition and housing renovation.30 CLB also received funds from the mortgage fraud settlement, a federal agreement that returned $330 million to the state of Ohio.31 Attorney General Mike DeWine allocated $75 million throughout Ohio for demolition, of which CLB received $11 million.32 Beginning in 2014, CLB also expects to receive a portion of the $60 million in Hardest Hit funds awarded to the Ohio Housing Financing Agency, which are earmarked for demolition. Although the exact numbers are not fixed, Frangos expects them to be in the range of $10–15 million.33

Despite the many added opportunities that these federal funds support, CLB’s independent funding stream, which includes penalties and interest on collected delinquent taxes, is the most critical, because it ensures the land bank’s continued operation. CLB convinced the region’s municipalities to allow the land bank to collect the interest and penalties because foreclosures are no longer solely an urban problem; like rotten apples in a barrel, says Frangos, foreclosures threaten to destabilize communities throughout the region. Frangos notes that persuading local officials that CLB should collect these funds was challenging. Although municipalities do not budget for this money, the revenue is welcome. Ultimately, given the current economic environment, officials agreed to funnel that money to the land bank so that it could address the widespread problems of foreclosure and abandonment.

The independence that this funding stream guarantees is critical to CLB’s success. “At a time when municipalities are struggling for money, this effort — if a city had to do it — would compete with [funding for] streets, lights, police, fire, recreation facilities,” says Frangos. “If I had to go every year to a legislature for my annual funding, I wouldn’t know how many people I’d be able to hire, how many properties I could address.” Likewise, the land bank’s organizational structure — a nonprofit structured like a for-profit organization — and its independence from local government enable it to function efficiently. The land bank “is a single-focused entity whose main purpose and main funding is designed to deal with this problem…. I don’t have to go to my board every time I have to sell a home. We set our programs in motion, they are approved by the board, and we rock and roll,” says Frangos.34

Another aspect critical to CLB’s successful operations is its well-organized inventory, particularly because the land bank is managing thousands of properties at any one time. CLB maintains a database of its properties and any associated expenses or code violations. This system draws information from all available public databases; it even integrates data on adjacent properties so that the land bank can search for properties on a single block or a specific area. For example, the database will not only show areas with 10 adjacent vacant lots but will also indicate what, if any, activity exists alongside those parcels, such as construction permits or community investments. With that information, land bank personnel can make strategic choices about which properties to target and for what purpose. Through the database, the land bank can also advise local government officials about where, and how, to concentrate their tax-foreclosure efforts, since the number of tax-delinquent vacancies far exceeds the funding available to process them.35 Thus, CLB is able to support the local government’s and other institutions’ work to address the foreclosure, abandonment, and vacancy crisis.

The Fulton County/City of Atlanta Land Bank

A single-family home that is being rehabilitated.
This property in Atlanta’s Pittsburgh neighborhood was held by the Fulton County/City of Atlanta Land Bank through its depository agreement program before being rehabilitated by Partnership for the Preservation of Pittsburgh.
Photo courtesy: SNDSI (Sustainable Neighborhood Development Strategies Inc.)
In contrast to the Cuyahoga County Land Bank, the Fulton County/City of Atlanta Land Bank Authority began in the early 1990s. The state of Georgia enacted legislation in 1990 that authorized municipalities and the counties in which they were located to create land bank authorities with the power to acquire tax-delinquent properties, clear their titles, and dispose of them.36 The municipalities and counties involved would have to enter into an interlocal cooperation agreement to establish the land bank. Following passage of the state statute, in 1991, Fulton County and the city of Atlanta created the Fulton County/City of Atlanta Land Bank Authority (LBA) as a nonprofit corporation.37 LBA’s founding mission was to restore tax-delinquent properties that were not generating revenue to active use. The interlocal cooperation agreement between the city of Atlanta and Fulton County outlined how the two levels of government would work together. It stipulated a board of four with two members appointed by the mayor of Atlanta and two appointed by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners.38 In addition to its board, LBA had its own staff of three that managed operations. Its funding came from Fulton County’s general fund, supplemented with HUD Community Development Block Grant program funds from the city of Atlanta.39 As a nonprofit, LBA also made use of philanthropic funds from Enterprise Community Partners, the Ford Foundation, J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation, and Fannie Mae.40

Among its most important powers, LBA had the authority to forgive back taxes on properties throughout Fulton County and the city of Atlanta.41 This power was critical; Georgia law required that the minimum bid for a property at a tax-foreclosure sale must equal the cost of the property’s tax penalties. In many cases, however, the cost of tax penalties and compounded interest far exceeded the property’s market value. As a result, Fulton County and Atlanta were saddled with many properties that they could not sell and that therefore sat vacant, abandoned, and unused.42

For the first two decades, the land bank focused on “conduit transfers” of tax-delinquent properties to community development corporations (CDCs).43 A CDC would buy a tax-delinquent property for a below-market price and convey the property’s title to LBA, which forgave the delinquent taxes on the property. LBA then transferred the property back to the CDC with the requirement that it develop the property according to specific requirements, such as transforming it into affordable housing. If the CDC did not fulfill its obligations, the property would revert to LBA. In this way, the land bank cleared tax liens and transferred titles to CDCs at the rate of about 50 to 100 properties each year.44

LBA’s role began to evolve in response to the foreclosure crisis, which hit Atlanta particularly hard; the city is currently second in the nation in its rates of negative equity, and in 2012 the metropolitan area had the nation’s seventh-highest foreclosure rate.45 Christopher Norman, LBA’s executive director, explains that before the housing crash, Atlanta’s real estate market was so expensive that CDCs struggled to acquire and develop properties.46 When the housing market collapsed, some CDCs found themselves overwhelmed with undeveloped or half-completed properties but without a market to absorb them or financing to bring them to the next stage. Making matters more difficult, some CDCs could not afford to pay the property taxes on these undeveloped properties.47 To assist the CDCs, LBA launched the Land Bank Depository Agreement Program in 2009 to allow nonprofits or government entities to transfer their properties’ titles to LBA for up to five years.48 For-profits can also do so if they participate as a minority partner or through a joint venture. During this period, LBA holds these titles tax-free. The entities transferring property to or receiving property from LBA are responsible for holding costs, which include property management, maintenance, and other administrative expenses. However, because hundreds of properties are enrolled in the program, CDCs can take advantage of economies of scale, reducing these costs. The five-year holding period also gives participants time to arrange for financing to develop the properties. This program, the first of its kind in the nation, has enrolled more than 200 properties. Thirty-four properties have since exited the program; once completed, these projects will result in 148 units of housing and a new park.49

A foreclosed apartment building in the process of redevelopment as a 42-unit senior living facility.
The Fulton County/City of Atlanta Land Bank Authority acquired a foreclosed apartment building and transferred ownership to nonprofit National Church Residences; it will be redeveloped as Betmar Village, a 42-unit senior living facility.
Photo courtesy: National Church Residences
LBA has also begun to buy and manage properties. Its first purchase was a 28-unit foreclosed apartment building acquired using funds from the Atlanta Coordinating Responsible Authority.50 LBA partnered with National Church Residences, a local nonprofit, to redevelop the building as a 42-unit senior living facility. LBA has since made other acquisitions using NSP funds, including 9 multifamily and 25 single-family properties that it purchased in 2010. A portion of the $4.4 million the land bank received from NSP 3 is earmarked toward rehabilitation, property acquisition, and the costs of holding properties. Other NSP funds went to hire an additional employee, bringing LBA’s total staff to four.51

Improving Capacity With State Legislation

In 2011, LBA teamed with other land banks in the state to create the Georgia Association of Land Bank Authorities (GALBA). According to Norman, GALBA’s president, he and other leaders joined forces because they recognized the need for a formal voice representing the state’s land banks to advocate for the passage of SB 284, the Georgia Land Bank Act. GALBA succeeded in its efforts; SB 284 was signed into law in July 2012. Among other changes, the legislation allows for the creation of regional land banks, specifies that land banks may borrow funds, and provides land banks with a self-funding mechanism; a land bank that is instrumental in bringing a property back to the tax rolls is allowed to capture up to 75 percent of the taxes produced by that property for up to 5 years. After the five-year period, all taxes generated by the property revert to the city, county, or school board, as required. This system, says Norman, “aligns the land bank’s activity with financial reward for the organization…. The more you do, the more you generate.”52 Because these properties had not been generating tax revenue before the land bank’s intervention, allowing the land bank to collect this revenue takes nothing away from cities, counties, or school boards. Finally, these funds allow the land bank to complete more projects while reducing the need for additional financial assistance from the city or county.53 The new legislation also allows intergovernmental contracts among multiple counties. A land bank can contract with another land bank to provide a service in which it has expertise. This type of cooperation enables the land banks to operate more efficiently and avoid duplication of services.

Collaboration and Flexibility

The LBA is poised to expand its scope of activities, largely because of the self-funding mechanism authorized by the new state legislation. However, regardless of the scale of the land bank’s projects, Norman says that collaboration is key, particularly with government partners. LBA works closely with the city of Atlanta, including its Department of Planning and Community Development and its court system, as well as with county-level commissioners. LBA also works with members of the development community, including legal teams, property management companies, and a pool of developers that have the expertise and the capacity to bring properties back to productive use. These partnerships are key in part because the LBA is staffed by a team of four and does not have the capacity to operate efficiently or effectively in these many different realms.

Norman also emphasizes staying true to the land bank’s mission while responding to local needs. “Don’t be afraid to evolve. Neighborhoods, real estate, and local economies are fluid. You have to be open to changing.”54 This fluidity is evident in LBA’s 20-year history. In the 1990s, the land bank focused on large inventories of heavily tax-delinquent properties in the county’s older industrial cities. Today, LBA addresses abandoned properties resulting from the foreclosure crisis as well as longer-term economic decline.55 The next challenge that LBA will address is Atlanta’s citywide vacancy rate of 12.3 percent, which, according to the city’s 2013 Strategic Community Investment Report, is concentrated in only a handful of neighborhoods.56 LBA will be better able to resolve those problems thanks to the greater agency, flexibility, and self-funding afforded by the 2012 Georgia Land Bank Act.


Land banks are highly adaptable tools that can respond to local real estate conditions such as large swaths of tax-foreclosed properties, abandoned and blighted housing, or foreclosed homes in need of rehabilitation and responsible ownership. With its strategic acquisition, demolition, and rehabilitation activities, CLB is able to efficiently address high numbers of foreclosed and vacant properties in Cuyahoga County. CLB’s well-organized vacant property inventory system and independent funding mechanisms have been critical to its success. With a longer history, LBA has evolved over the years in response to changing market conditions. The land bank’s ability to extinguish property taxes and clear titles, as well as its depository agreement program, is vital to community-based redevelopment efforts in the region. Also crucial to the land bank’s operations are its flexibility and ability to collaborate with local government agencies, CDCs, and other stakeholders. Both entities demonstrate how state legislation and tax-foreclosure reforms can empower land banks to transform liabilities into resources for the public good. With the support of state legislation (14 states have authorizing statutes), land banks are frequently being founded; Alexander estimates that about 125 to 150 land banks are currently operating nationwide.57

Related Information:

A Land Bank for Philadelphia

  1. Frank S. Alexander. 2005. “Land Bank Authorities: A Guide for the Creation and Operation of Local Land Banks,” Local Initiatives Support Corporation, 2, 22–7.
  2. Ibid., 5–7.
  3. Interview with Frank Alexander, December 2013.
  4. Frank S. Alexander. 2011. Land Banks and Land Banking, Center for Community Progress, 19–20.
  5. Interview with Frank Alexander.
  6. “Land Bank Fast Track Act,” Michigan State Legislature website ( Accessed 8 January 2014.
  7. Alexander 2011, 21; Daniel T. Kildee. 2006. “Rethinking Urban Land.”
  8. “What We Do,” Genesee County Land Bank website ( Accessed 9 December 2013.   
  9. Interview with Frank Alexander.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Thomas J. Fitzpatrick IV. 2009. “Understanding Ohio’s Land Bank Legislation,” Policy Discussion Papers No.25, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, 4–5; Alexander 2011, 20–1; Mike Brady. 2012. “Evolution of Specific Land Banks & Their Powers,” Cook County Land Bank Advisory Committee Meeting presentation.
  12. Kermit J. Lind. 2008. “The Perfect Storm: An Eyewitness Report from Ground Zero in Cleveland’s Neighborhoods,” Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law 17:3, 237–58.
  13. Lind 2008, 238; W. Dennis Keating and Kermit J. Lind. 2012. “Responding to the Mortgage Crisis: Three Cleveland Examples,” The Urban Lawyer 44:1, 1–35; U.S. Government Accountability Office. 2011. “Vacant Properties: Growing Number Increases Communities’ Costs and Challenges,” 15–7.
  14. David Rothstein and Sapna Mehta. 2009. “Foreclosure Growth in Ohio 2009,” Policy Matters Ohio, Table 4, 9.
  15. Lind 2008, 238–43.
  16. W. Dennis Keating. 2011. “Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation: The beginning, the present, and beyond,” Cuyahoga Land Bank, 6.
  17. Lisa Nelson. 2008. “Foreclosure Filings in Cuyahoga County,” A Look Behind the Numbers 1:1, Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank; Bret Chow. 2013. “Foreclosures Statewide Drop Again in 2012,” Court News Ohio; Interview with Gus Frangos, November 2013.
  18. “Board of Directors” and “About Us,” Cuyahoga Land Bank website ( Accessed 9 January 2014; “SB 353” Ohio State Legislature website ( Accessed 24 January 2014.
  19. The REO sales agreement, first announced in July 2010, has been renewed in November 2013 through September 2014. Cuyahoga Land Bank. 2013. “HUD, Cuyahoga Land Bank Renew Ground Breaking Agreement,” 26 November press release; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 2010. “HUD Expands Neighborhood Stabilization Program in Cuyahoga County,” 2 July press release.
  20. Keating, 5.
  21. Interview with Gus Frangos.
  22. Keating, 7; Cuyahoga Land Bank. 2013. “Cuyahoga Land Bank Renovates 700th Property; Demolishes 2000th Property,” 16 September press release; Interview with Gus Frangos.
  23. Cuyahoga Land Bank Launches Advantage Plus Loan Program in Euclid,” Cuyahoga Land Bank website ( Accessed 10 December 2013.
  24. Cuyahoga Land Bank. 2013. “Helping veterans become homeowners,” and “Cuyahoga Land Bank Launches Homefront Veterans Home Ownership Program,” 13 November Cuyahoga Land Bank blog. Accessed 10 December 2013.
  25. Community Research Partners and ReBuild Ohio. 2008. “$60 Million and Counting: The cost of vacant and abandoned properties to eight Ohio cities,” i.
  26. Interview with Gus Frangos.
  27. Cuyahoga Land Bank. 2012. “Career Development and Placement Strategies, Inc.,” 5 October Cuyahoga Land Bank blog. Accessed 10 December 2013.
  28. Cuyahoga Land Bank. 2013. “Cuyahoga Land Bank celebrates Disabilities Awareness Month; Conclusion of a 2nd year of partnering with Koinonia Homes, Inc. to maintain properties,” 9 October press release.
  29. Interview with Gus Frangos.
  30. Cuyahoga Land Reutilization Corporation. 2010. “Funding Approval and Grant Agreement for NSP 2 Funds.”
  31. Attorney General Launches Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Grant Program to Remove Blighted Residential Structures,” Ohio Attorney General website ( Accessed 12 January 2014. 
  32. The $11 million was matched by $5 million from the Cuyahoga County Office of the Prosecutor and $6 million from the CLB toward demolition. Ohio Attorney General’s Office. 2012. “Moving Ohio Forward Grant Commission,” 4; Interview with Gus Frangos.
  33. Ohio Housing Finance Agency. 2013. “OHFA Expands Foreclosure Prevention Efforts to Demolish Ohio's Vacant and Abandoned Properties,” 22 August press release; Interview with Gus Frangos.
  34. Interview with Gus Frangos.
  35. Ibid.
  36. Georgia General Assembly, “Land Bank Authorities: Georgia Code: Section 48-4-61.”
  37. Frank S. Alexander and Sara J. Toering. 2013. “Georgia Land Bank Resource Manual,” Center for Community Progress, 12.
  38. Fulton County/City of Atlanta Land Bank Authority. 1994. “Interlocal Cooperation Agreement Establishing the Fulton County / City of Atlanta Land Bank Authority, Inc.” 
  39. Alexander 2005, 25, 86.
  40. Interview with Christopher Norman, November 2013.
  41. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 2009. Revitalizing Foreclosed Properties with Land Banks, 16.
  42. Alexander and Toering, 12.
  43. Alexander 2011, 19.
  44. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 2009, 17.
  45. Zillow Real Estate Research. 2013. “Negative Equity Report: Third Quarter 2013,” 3; RealtyTrac. 2013. “1.8 Million U.S. Properties with Foreclosure Filings in 2012.”
  46. Interview with Christopher Norman.
  47. Alexander 2011, 17, 36.
  48. Alexander and Toering, 29.
  49. Interview with Christopher Norman, January 2014.
  50. The Atlanta Coordinating Responsible Authority is a nonprofit corporation designated by the city of Atlanta to administer Title XX funds. “Boards and Commissions,” City of Atlanta website ( Accessed 10 January 2014.
  51. Interview with Christopher Norman; Christopher Norman. 2013. “Land Banking: Pathways Toward Sustainable Urban, Suburban and Rural Land Reclamation,” New Partners for Smart Growth Conference presentation.
  52. Interview with Christopher Norman.
  53. Ibid.
  54. Ibid.
  55. Ibid.; Interview with Frank Alexander.
  56. APD Solutions. 2013. “Creating Linkages and Eliminating Barriers: The Strategic Community Investment (SCI) Report,” 7.
  57. Interview with Frank Alexander; CFED. 2012. “Resource Guide: Foreclosure Prevention and Protections,” Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, 4­–7; Center for Community Progress. 2012. “Pennsylvania Gains New Tool to Fight Vacant Property,” 25 October press release.


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