Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Revitalizing Ohio’s Vacant Properties Conference: Policies to Transform Communities

A joint conference of Greater Ohio Policy Center and Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute. 

October 22-23, 2013

Columbus, Ohio
Targeting Resources to Redevelop Neighborhoods—the Slavic Village Model
Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Robert Klein, Chairman and Founder, Safeguard Properties
Justin Fleming, Director of Real Estate, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress
Jeff Raig , Project Director, Slavic Village Recovery, LLC

On Wednesday, October 23, Robert Klein joined the Revitalizing Ohio’s Vacant Properties Conference to raise awareness on the holistic community revitalization model that is being utilized in the Slavic Village Recovery Project (SVR).  Attended by over 300 community stakeholders from across Ohio, the conference provided a forum for discussion on a myriad of topics pertaining to vacant properties and community revitalization. Joining Klein was Justin Fleming of Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (an SVR partner) and Jeff Raig, SVR Project Director. 

Klein kicked-off the discussion by describing how he initiated the private for profit/non-profit partnership in response to the need for a holistic solution for community revitalization.    Klein explained that the Slavic Village Recovery project came together to rehabilitate Cleveland’s historic Slavic Village, a neighborhood where between 23% and 30% of the homes are vacant.  Klein developed the project to target several properties at a time to bring large scale change to the neighborhood.  The holistic approach, using both demolition and rehab, is being viewed a case study for the creation of an affordable housing model that can be replicated in communities around the Country. The goal of the SVRP is to acquire homes at little or no cost from the local land bank and lenders for rehabilitation and resale for a price up to $60,000.  Klein emphasized that one of the most important premises being utilized in the Slavic Village Recovery Project is that the public/private partnership should be operated like a business to support productivity. 

While the project does not use public funds, it has great support from the City of Cleveland, as well as local stakeholders, Klein said, emphasizing that local stakeholders and servicers are vital to the success of the project.  Klein stressed that mortgage services have been invaluable in acquiring homes in the area and are overwhelmingly supportive.  Justin Fleming gave greater detail on the nuts and bolts of the process utilized to acquire homes from lenders, homeowners, and the local land bank.  Fleming stressed the importance of utilizing available data to determine the time frame for acquisition and the quickest route for acquiring homes in the target area.    

Jeff Raig, who is responsible for overseeing the project on a daily basis, wrapped up the presentation with a virtual walk-through of the Slavic Village neighborhood, providing attendees with a visual of the how far the community has come with photos of the target area.  Raig also illustrated the importance of community engagement to the success of the project by sharing stories of local homeowners taking a new found pride in maintaining their homes. 

About Greater Ohio Policy Center
Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC) is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization based in Columbus and operating statewide. GOPC champions revitalization and sustainable growth in Ohio, advocating policies and practices that enhance its metropolitan regions as economic drivers and preserve Ohio’s open space and farmland. For more information about GOPC and our independent research, public education, technical assistance, coalition-building, and advocacy activities, please visit:

About Thriving Communities Institute
The Thriving Communities Institute, a program of Western Reserve Land Conservancy, works with communities and organizations regionally to transform vacant and unproductive properties into new opportunities to attract economic growth, add green space to cities and support safe, beautiful neighborhoods. The Thriving Communities Institute is based in Cleveland, Ohio. For more information, visit:


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