August 06, 2019
August 06, 2019
By Ayame Whitfield
Having a safe place to live is a fundamental need for all people. Insecure housing can lead to job loss, poor school performance, health problems, shorter life expectancy and other problems. Not only do houses provide shelter, they are often a long-term investment and source of financial security. When families lose homes to foreclosure, their lives are dramatically disrupted. When it happens in large numbers across a community, foreclosure has devastating effects on the entire economy.
Ohio is well acquainted with how damaging foreclosures can be. The Buckeye State was considered ground zero in the foreclosure crisis that began in the early 2000s and reached its apex in 2009. Today far fewer Ohioans are losing their homes to foreclosure. Nevertheless, Ohio remains among the 10 states with the highest foreclosure rates.
A total of 33,527 foreclosure cases were filed in Ohio county courts in 2018, according to data from the Ohio Supreme Court. That amounted to approximately one filing for every 156 housing units in the state. Though this continues the downward trend in total filings since 2009 and is 4.6 percent lower (1,642) than the total for 2017, 2018’s rate still remains close to double rates in in the mid-1990s. Additionally, 28 Ohio counties experienced an increase in foreclosure filing rates from 2017 to 2018.
About 58% of all foreclosure filings in Ohio in 2018 occurred in the 10 most populous counties, a total of 19,306 filings. Only one of the 10, Cuyahoga County, experienced an increase in filings. Changes in the other nine counties ranged from a 3% drop in Lorain County to a 16% decline in Lucas County. Between 2017 and 2018, the foreclosure rate fell by 6.6%.
For the state of Ohio overall, there were a little less than three (2.87) foreclosures per 1,000 people in 2018, down from 3.02 in 2017. Twenty-seven counties had rates higher than the overall per capita filings. As shown in Table 2, Guernsey County, located in Southeast Ohio had the highest filing rate, at seven foreclosures per 1,000 people. Holmes County, which is about 80 miles south of Cleveland, had the lowest filing rate, at 0.71 foreclosures per 1,000 people. Both counties maintained their respective positions as highest or lowest from 2017 to 2018, despite a decrease from 7.57 filings per 1,000 people in Guernsey County a year earlier.
Table 3 shows that filing rates went up in six out of 10 of the hardest-hit counties: Coshocton, Morrow, Jackson, Cuyahoga, Erie, and Sandusky. Additionally, seven of the 10 hardest-hit counties on the 2018 list also appeared on the 2017 list.
Predatory lending targeted the black community in Ohio and nationally and still does. Black millennials nationwide are now less likely to own a home than their grandparents were at the same age and the homeownership gap between black and white Americans is now higher than it has been at any point since the New Deal. Land contracts, a Jim Crow-era product that often strips people of their wealth, are re-emerging in Ohio. If we want secure, affordable housing for every Ohioan, we need to regulate predatory products and provide funding for housing that is too often out-of-reach in our low-wage economy.
Appendices 1 and 2, below the conclusion, show foreclosure filing rates and trends in all 88 counties.
Though foreclosures are down compared to recent years, they are still a problem in Ohio. Ohio remains among the 10 worst states in the country in foreclosure rates and rates remain between one and a half and two times as high as they were in the early and mid 1990s.
We need strong policies to promote affordable housing and support homeowners. One route that the legislature has gotten behind is investment in the Ohio Housing Trust Fund, which directly helps low-income homeowners by improving conditions, expanding services, and making housing opportunities affordable. Ohio’s legislature added between $2.5 and $3.5 million to the Housing Trust Fund in the just-passed budget and should continue to grow this fund in future years.
The other essential component is regulating predatory products. Legislators should support House Bill 103, which would better regulate land contracts by requiring inspections, appraisals, compliance with local building codes, and legal representation.
Ohioans need affordable, secure housing if they are to work, be healthy, and thrive. Better funding and regulation can ensure that this essential is more readily available to all of our neighbors.
 See https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2015/14_0511.htm and https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hpb20180313.396577/full/
 Data received from the Ohio Supreme Court, May 29, 2019. Numbers include both tax and mortgage foreclosures, but not tax foreclosure filings at county boards of revision for vacant abandoned properties.
 A recent report published by the Western Reserve Land Conservancy shows that mortgage foreclosures in Cuyahoga County have returned to 1995 levels, but the overall increase is driven by tax foreclosures. http://bit.ly/2OD9dAL
 Note that Warren County replaced Lake County as the tenth most populous county between 2017 and 2018.
1 of 22