Land Banks vs. Land Trust

Submitted by lmcshane on Sat, 07/23/2016 - 20:38.

 My sister and I have been discussing land banks versus land trusts.  It's an interesting distinction - before Rokakis and Frangos engineered their own private party known as the Cuyahoga Land Reutilization Corp (or "Land Bank")--the region had a "land trust" that was intended to keep housing affordable.  It was known as the Cuyahoga Community Land Trust.  Here is the history of Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland - this information was taken from a cached record of the site:


History of NHS of Greater Cleveland


For over 40 years home has mattered at Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland. We have provided programs and services for achieving, preserving and sustaining the American Dream of homeownership. Since its beginning in 1975, the focus on education as a positive force to successful homeownership has been the cornerstone of our organization. As the fifth chartered organization in the NeighborWorks®America network, NHS of Greater Cleveland has been able to leverage national, state and local partnerships throughout its history.

NHS of Greater Cleveland has experienced many growing spurts throughout the years. It started by focusing on 6 distinct neighborhoods, working under the banner of the model-blocks formula of the national movement Neighborhood Housing Services; moved on to providing citywide services, and then acknowledging and addressing the needs of the First Ring suburbs. Today, NHS of Greater Cleveland has a footprint that covers 5 counties - Cuyahoga, Erie and Lorain counties for all services and Huron and Medina counties for foreclosure prevention services. The growing process included expansion of our geographic footprint and of our physical plant. From decentralization to a centralized delivery location that we rented, NHS of Greater Cleveland went on to walk the walk of “owning your own home” by relocating to a city neighborhood, renovating an existing structure AND owning our own home. Home definitely matters!

As we have sought opportunities to increase our positive impact, not only within communities, but also on the lives of our clients, the possibility of partnerships, strategic alliances and mergers began to take shape. In September of 2011, NHS of Greater Cleveland merged with the Community Land Trust of Greater Cleveland. This merger allowed for increased opportunities for housing that is affordable, reinvigorated our client-centric focus by specifying in the bylaws that a total of 20% of the full board needed to be clients, and allowed us to increase programming to achieve successful and sustainable homeownership for our clients.

It is our hope that the success achieved post-merger provides the springboard for future partnerships, strategic alliances and other possible mergers to truly reflect our commitment of providing programs and services for achieving, preserving and sustaining the American dream of homeownership.

The all-volunteer Board of Directors of NHS of Greater Cleveland has worked relentlessly to guide our organization in addressing the needs of our clients, our neighborhoods and our communities. We continue to write our history by looking forward to implementing the second 5-year strategic plan, with 3 major goals:

  1. To expand NHS of Greater Cleveland services geographically and programmatically.  
  2. To continually enhance NHS of Greater Cleveland ’s reputation and influence in order to meet the homeownership needs of the community.  
  3. To continue to improve the strength of NHS of Greater Cleveland as a high performing organization.

Our historical, and future, successes are predicated on an engaged board, staff knowledge and capacity, but more importantly, the ability to affect positive change on the lives of those whom we serve.

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Hough - the next Tremont!

@Rachel Dissell, The Plain Dealer  I am glad your article and your media group is giving some positive attention to the Hough neighborhood.  You should also interview Tom Balbo.  He has owned a building and has supported the arts in Cleveland without much fanfare, but he has always recognized and lived in Hough.  But, your paper can't help to dictate the economic success of a neighborhood - as it has tried with Slavic Village, Detroit Shoreway, Ohio City, ad nauseum.  Your paper continues to give a pass to the "Land Bank" racketeers and alludes to their non-profit conservancy partner - Western Reserve Land Conservancy with a reference to the "Thriving Communities" study (lead by Jim Rokakis). 

Hough doesn't need a CDC - my neighborhood doesn't need a CDC. We need taxpayers. Community Development Corporations are so perverted from their original purpose that they no longer work for residents - they work for outside developers, and are measured on their ability to draw federal monies to a project. Detroit Shoreway Development Corp is a case in point : every project they tout is a mix of federal tax credits meant to line their pockets with the project developer fee.  


Your publication will not touch the story of the non-representative CDC set up by Council reps Cummins, Zone and Cimperman - and now supported by the chair of the Cuyahoga County Land Bank board - Tony Brancatelli.  That non-representative CDC (Stockyard Clark-Fulton Brooklyn Centre) is poised to accept hundreds of properties from the Cuyahoga County Land Bank, so they can then transfer them again (after all back taxes have been wited out) to private developers at no cost.  This magic act used to take place at the Board of Revision - which was also controlled by the same players: Jim Rokakis, Gus Frangos and the disgraced previous Cuyahoga County administrators - Russo and Dimora (and Tim Hagan and Peter Lawson Jones).


I hope that folks like Mansfield Frazier, who certainly knows how to recognize con artists, won't fall prey to the same game being played throughout CLE.  The strawbuyer, hold 'em and don't play taxes game, until you have a market value for real estate. At least Mansfield and his wife are paying taxes in Hough, which is more than can be said for the councilman - TJ Dow.  Who is not mentioned in this article for his tax evasion.