Cleveland = The New India?
My Economics Professor in MBA School, Peter Klein, lectured fondly of the Indian (as in subcontinent, not AmerInd) “entrepreneurs” who risked life and limb going through rubbish heaps looking for scrap metal and other items that could be sold. Despite the risk—I’m not writing metaphorically when I say “risked life and limb”—it was the best opportunity they had of making a better life for themselves.
Apparently, that Indian entrepreneurial spirit (or, as Newt Gingrich might call it, “work ethic”) is being mirrored these days in Cleveland. But now a former county treasurer wants to put a stop to it:
[Former Cuyahoga County Treasurer] Jim Rokakis: We’re looking at a neighborhood that has almost as many vacant houses awaiting demolition as there are houses with people living in them. We have one here. One here. One here. One there.
[Narration?] Rokakis is leading the effort to tear down thousands of abandoned homes because they’re rotting their neighborhoods from the inside out. It often starts, he told us, when a vacant house becomes an open house to thieves.
[TV Correspondent] Scott Pelley: It’s a nice house from the roof to about here. And then down here it’s been ripped to pieces. What’s goin’ on?
Rokakis: Well this is typical because this is as high as they could reach without using ladders. They ripped off the aluminum siding, which you’ll see on most of these houses. The aluminum and the vinyl siding comes off. It’s getting’ about a buck a pound.
Pelley: Essentially foreclosure scavengers have been through here?
Rokakis: The thieves have gone high tech. They know when evictions are occurring ’cause they’re posted online. And they will follow the sheriff. They’re usually there that afternoon or that evening.
Rokakis: So, in here, what you’re gonna see, well. I guess they took everything including the proverbial kitchen sink, right? The sink is gone. The plumbing is gone in this house. All the copper. Anything metal that had value is gone. The furnace is gone.
Pelley: The light fixture–
Rokakis: Light fixture came out–
Pelley: Is gone. How often is this happening in Cleveland?
Rokakis: This happens every day. And the foreclosure crisis creates this spiral, because as a result of this people are now more likely to leave neighborhoods like this. And as they leave, the scavengers come in and do the same thing to the house next door or across the street.
Apparently, Mr. Rokakis objects that houses are starting to look like Bruce Willis’s after the opening scenes of RED. Maybe someone will set the former treasurer straight that the employment of “reuse, reduce, and recycle” techniques in the service of entrepreneurial activities is an Economic Virtue.
(Though, speaking strictly for me, I’m glad that my wife and eldest daughter are willing to delay their hoped-for move to Cleveland for at least the next few years.)
About once a week I see a news story in the rustbelt of a scavenger or copper theif being electrocuted or killed in a fall.
Not certain this is such a hot idea.
Cleveland and the burbs have some nice residential areas, just ahve to choose carefully.
that likely true for the whole area from detroit & toledo south to canton, youngstown & pittsburg, & north to buffalo…
cleveland has been going downhill for a long time…population of nearly a million in the 50s, to around 425K now…detroit had 2 million, now its around 600K…
here’s a link to an interactive 360 degree photo tour of several spots in or around Detroit, including the abandoned Michigan Central Train station…to get the sense of it, let it ride a few minutes with sound effects on before you use the intteractive tools to move around… upper right corner has similar tours through other detroit ruins… the british guardian had an article on it at the begining of the year Detroit in ruins: the photographs of Yves Marchand … – with an accompanying photo slide show: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/gallery/2011/jan/02/photography-detroit
the BBC also had an award winning documentary, “requiem for detroit” i watched segments on youtube…this looks like it may be the whole thing: http://documentaryheaven.com/requiem-for-detroit/
If yesterday’s Sunday NY Times Magazine is right, all Cleveland needs is Jack Nicklaus to come in and design a golf course.
Not to be to personel – but why the heck are you moving TOO Cleveland? I suggest the burbs if you need to be there for a job. I grew up 40 minutes south and saw the hand-writing on the wall then. Depending on where your job (or wife’s job) is I beleive you can find a nice area either south or east (NOT East Cleveland though) that not bad. Depends on how far your willing to commute and what type of living you want. The area around Cleveland Clinic is gentryfying quickly and has major city support – but pick your spot wisely.
Send a note to Mike – he still lives in the area and might be able to point to some places to look. This assumes your not from Ohio.
nanute – The Bear (Jack Nicklaus) is from Ohio (OSU grad) and there are plenty of his courses around the state.
Islam will change
There is a bit of a difference between India and Cleveland. In India, the rubbish heaps are well defined. People breaking into foreclosed houses to steal copper are creating new rubbish heaps. Some of the homes would be salvageable. If the copper and the water heater are ripped out of the basement, its added about a $3,000 to the cost of repairing the house. The bank can still sell the house, albeit at a lower price. My wife and I have bought a couple houses where that was the case (in Akron) and fixed them up.
But when the copper is ripped out through a wall along with some of the electric cables, the damage becomes that much greater. Instead of $20K – $30K to fix it up, it now costs $40K – $50K. But the house may have ben valued at 80K in 2007 and will sell for $50K now. The math no longer works and the house cannot be sold at any price greater than zero. (Note that I’m assuming it isn’t otherwise damaged – a crack in the foundation or mold or anything else, much less a bunch of other foreclosures on the same street.)
metal theft is epidemic, & not just from foreclosed homes…
Police: 2 men in custody for stealing metal urns – Chicago police have arrested two people they say stole dozens of funeral vases and plaques worth thousands of dollars from several cemeteries and wanted to sell them.
Heist from San Francisco church raises alarm bells A 5,300-pound bell that survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and is worth an estimated $75,000 was stolen last weekend by recycling thieves probably hoping to scrap it for about $10,000. The theft of this historic bell from St. Mary’s Cathedral is just the latest in a rash of alarming metal thefts across The City.The prior week, a bronze plaque honoring slain Supervisor Harvey Milk was pilfered from Muni’s Castro station. The plaque, worth $10,000, had been bolted to a wall.
Weak Economy Drives Theft Of Copper Wiring – They’re stealing copper wiring from streetlights, stripping it from electrical substations, and burrowing into the ground for it as if mining precious metal. Always a problem, metal scavengers have become more brazen in the economic downturn, authorities said, sometimes endangering public safety across Philadelphia and South Jersey. They’re removing brass fittings from water hydrants and wiring from cellular towers, telephone networks, and railroad lines such as PATCO. The crime has become so prevalent that the FBI says it affects national security by disrupting “the flow of electricity, telecommunications, transportation, water supply, heating, and security and emergency services.” Utility companies such as Peco and PSE&G mark their wiring so it can be identified when stolen. They’re working closely with area police departments, using the Internet to track thefts, and alerting area scrap yards to be on the lookout for stolen items.
Thieves Steal 175,000 Feet Of Copper Wire From Overhead Lights On I-95 – Rising copper prices and a bad economy are giving thieves reason to rob Interstate-95 of its copper wiring, used in overhead lights. According to CBS Miami, the larceny of over 175,000 feet of copper wire has rendered useless the lighting over a 33-mile stretch of Palm Beach County. The thievery has taken place over the last six months in 18 separate locations. “Obviously, the economy has driven this,”
Bold thieves steal bridge in North Beaver – Ellwood City Ledger: Local News:: As the value of scrap metal — including copper and steel — increases, thieves have been becoming more daring and less respectful of institutions such as churches and schools. But one group of thieves might have set the standard last week by stealing a 50-foot-long bridge. State police said the bridge was stolen between Sept. 27 and Wednesday in North Beaver Township. The theft was discovered shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday.The bridge, around 20 feet wide, was in a wooded area along a railroad line in the township’s Covert’s Crossing region. The bridge was made out of corrugated steel and valued at approximately $100,000. Police said the thief or thieves used a cutting torch to dismantle the bridge where it sat.
i take it that no one has seen any way to keep people in those homes… banks taking lower payments. renting or selling at lower prices. shelter for homeless people who can maintain them…
These houses are basically economically no different than a pile of trash – especially after being cleaned out. Detroit is actually bull-dozing houses and buying people out to return whole blocks back into grassland – so they dn’t have to service the area and for public safety. Go look at rjs’s links. There is nobody who wants these homes – the population is just gone.
You can buy houses for $8K in Detroit, basically the banks letting you just take the d*** things – but there are no takers.
As for homeless shelter – I remember when my base was closed. All the on-base housing, once home to a large % of the married base population, was in perfect condition, but was immediately condemed after the homeless shelters and Habitat for Humanity would not take them. Not up to code to even house the homeless! I bet these are in far worse condition…
Islam will change
That’s what got me about this story. The bank forecloses and then abandons the property such that We the people pay again to have them torn down.
A total waste of everything that this planet can’t afford. So tearing them down stops some of the downward value, but what about the tax rolls? And, how does the bank still list the property on their balance sheet. It no longer can be what it was, as it is just raw land. And, do they even own it if they don’t reimburse the town for the demolition?
i think the housed turned to trash AFTER they were empty.
and yes, the code people are idiots too.
as rusty points out
theft is not risk free. while there will always be some theft, most people won’t take the risk if they have a reasonable alternative.
the policies that turned detroit into a wasteland, and the banks / government stupidity about the “mortgage crisis” republican policies in general and democratic stupidity in agreeing with those policies or proposing “tax the rich” as the only answer to them have created, are creating, what i think they called a dystopia when it was only in fiction and the movies.
Detroit is gonna be one of the big stories of 2012.
The choices are bankruptcy or state receivership. The natives are howling “racism, racism.”
i think the houses turned to trash after they were vacated.
i wasn’t thinking of “homeless shelters” but homes for people who have not enough money to pay the current rates. since the houses are otherwise “trash”, a homes in return for maintenance would seem to solve two problems at the same time.
Detroit specifically and Michigan in general are deep blue Dem areas. the idea that its a R fault is laughable. The Dems and the Unions have been running Detroit since before I was born!
Islam will change
Few copper downspouts left in the area. Unused wiring stripped out (vacant houses, right of ways on RR land for the big cables, etc. several deaths a year from power station attempted thefts).
The houses in the examplesa I have seen were stripped soon after forced vacating the house, as the thieves follow court court announcement (like any foreclosure and short buyers) and listen in on the sheriff’s band.
And most Detroit dems are African American with a good measure of Muslims.
Their football is doing fair this year!
ilsm will not change
back in the day
folks from the North would visit the South where they saw that things was pretty poor and badly done. they said that any two Yankee farmers could do more in a day than a team of twenty slaves and an overseer could do in a week.
and no doubt it was the Blacks fault, or the Democrats… who surely did run the South, still, do in fact, only they changed their names to Republicans.
now, to tell you the truth, i have been very mad at Democrats lately myself, even “liberal” Democrats. but they still don’t scare me as much as the insane Republicans… er, formerly “states rights Democrats” you know.
so i can only say, it gets a little tedious listening to you blame the democrats for everything. i think you are smarter than that.
i don’t think it would be hard for me to find the republican policies that created the rust belt.
democrat politicians in detroit may be corrupt… i don’t know…but when your major industry is destroyed by government policy, it’s a little hard to maintain that old middle class respectability.
keep going with tax cuts forever republican policy, well supported by sold-out democrats, and you are going to see “detroit” spread across the country to a neighborhood near you.
an interesting back story on that house pelley visited in that 60 minutes piece over at yves’s place:
Michael Olenick: The Administration Likes Foxes in Charge of Henhouses – Proof that OCC Foreclosure Reviews Are a Sham –