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.
Greater Ohio Policy Center’s latest report, “Taking Stock of Ohio County Land Banks: Current Practices and Promising Strategies,” utilizes interviews, conference presentations, media coverage, and land bank documents to assess the current state of land banking in Ohio. Through its research, GOPC 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.
GOPC found that 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:
- stabilizing and strengthening markets—particularly residential neighborhoods—to prevent further decline, and
- clearing a path for private sector re-engagement by lowering barriers through incentives, support, and resources.
Through the study, GOPC identified 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.