Still a problem: Foreclosures in Ohio
The number of new foreclosures in Ohio dropped last year, but remains well above previous levels. Foreclosures in Ohio fell 7.4 percent last year to 40,479, according to new data from the Ohio Supreme Court, the lowest number since 2000. The number of new filings at county courts across the state dropped for the sixth year in a row, to well under half the number in 2009.
But we still have a ways to go before foreclosures return to what might be considered normal levels (see chart below). During the 1990s, the number of filings averaged 21,075 a year, or slightly over half the total in 2015. The number of foreclosures remains at least double 1995 levels in 73 of the state’s 88 counties and triple that of two decades ago in 42 counties, or almost half of Ohio. This foreclosure data comes from the Supreme Court and we’ll take a closer look at it in a forthcoming report.
Ohio was hit early and hard by the predatory lending that helped bring about the last recession and forced tens thousands from their homes. Even now, the share of homebuyers who are significantly behind on their mortgages remains far higher than before the foreclosure crisis. Thousands of them have sought help from the state’s housing finance agency, though it stopped taking applications for assistance in 2014. Foreclosures represent a major blow against families’ biggest source of savings and financial stability. Moreover, too often, they become vacant and abandoned, sapping the vitality from communities.
Ohio is slated to receive a welcome infusion of $192 million in additional federal funds to prevent foreclosures and stabilize housing markets. However, that’s much less than housing advocates had hoped for and the state had requested. News reports indicate that’s because Ohio’s application was flawed, focusing too heavily on demolition of vacant homes and failing to convince the U.S. Treasury Department it could gain title to properties and tear them down fast enough to spend the money by the end of 2020. This illustrates that, regardless of the federal aid that is available, the State of Ohio needs to make an ongoing commitment to assisting people to stay in their homes and cleaning up the damage from a decade and a half of elevated foreclosure levels.
Source: Ohio Supreme Court, Policy Matters Ohio review of filings in U.S. district courts. Data includes federal filings beginning in 2004 and ending in 2008, the period during which significant numbers of such cases were filed. Numbers include both tax and mortgage foreclosures, but not tax foreclosure filings at county boards of revision for vacant abandoned properties. See our 2015 report for more details.
-- Zach Schiller
Zach is Policy Matters research director.