W. Dennis Keating, Ph.D., has been following the CCLRC (Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation) for the past two years and reports on the progress and impact this new, impressive organization has had on the county.
You can access the article here
Professor Keating is a Professor at Cleveland State University's Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs
and is Director of the Master of Urban Planning, Design & Development program.
Kermit would like anyone wishing to give a farewell gift to make a contribution to the newly established Kermit Lind Award for Excellence in Clinical Practice. The award will be given annually to the student who best demonstrates the competencies, commitment and professionalism of an engaged community development attorney.
For gift contributions, the check should be made out to: CSU Foundation, with a note on the memo line: Kermit Lind Award for Excellence in Clinical Practice for the other.
Please mail to: Jean R. Packard
Urban Development Law Clinic
Cleveland-Marshall College of Law
Cleveland State University
2121 Euclid Avenue, LB 138
Cleveland, Ohio 44115-2214
A very successful day-long seminar was held at C|M April 11 in which community and municipal advocates along with servicers of bank real estate owned property (REO) collaborated to shed light on the problems and some potential solutions for abandoned vacant housing. The event was designed by the staff of the Federal Reserve Bank and the Clinic to initiate more effective collaboration between two camps with divergent interests. The day concluded with the announcement of an ongoing collaboration between REO servicers and the municipal and community law enforcement personnel in the Cleveland area to work together to deal with the continuing surge of housing in distress after foreclosure.
Many of the 70 persons who attended the seminar were attorneys who were able to get CLE credit. Others were code enforcement officials, REO servicers, public officials, community development corporation staff and neighborhood advocates.
Presenters offered data and economic analysis on the effect of the mortgage crisis in the Cleveland area, perspectives on the challenges faced by both communities and the bank REO servicing industry, and examples of programs and projects that attempt to mitigate the abandoned property problems. Metropolitan Cleveland has been a leading location for innovation, especially with the establishment of its county-wide Land Reutilization Corporation.
This Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank web site has the agenda with the materials and slide presentations.
In case you wonder what's ahead for those neighborhoods most affected by mortgage defaults and potential defaults linked to declining housing prices, take a look at what 60 Minutes published last Sunday. The Next Shock.
This suggests that armies of attorneys may be needed to clean up corrupted titles with false documentation for years to come. Think of all the collateral damage to consumer and business activities dependent on a healthy real estate market.
Does anyone think big banks are going to pay for the damage done in order to make more money? After all, they were given billions in public assistance to fix the financial crisis on Wall Street and billions more in local public expenditures to clean up the housing and neighborhoods destroyed as a result of debt collection and servicing practices. Why should there be any expectation that their principal officers will be held liable for anything?
Does anyone doubt that lawyers are complicit in the design and defense of business models that flout laws and regulations for greater profits? Based on the effectiveness of legislators and regulators so far, is there any reason now to bet money on an effective remedy from Washington, Wall Street or Columbus in the foreseeable future?
Perhaps it would be best to focus on local responses from places like Cleveland where people have the grit to fight back.
HERE is a recent issue of the Suffolk University Law Review which publishes a symposium on the mortgage crisis. The articles are excellent and there are two major connections to C|M Law. First, Professor Kathleen Engel introduces the symposium. She was on the C|M faculty until 2008 when she went to Suffolk. Her publications, along with those of Professor Patricia McCoy, also formerly on C|M's faculty, continue to lead current understanding and analysis of the mortgage crisis. Second, Clinical Professor Kermit Lind is the author of one of the articles in the issue. Entitled "Can Public Nuisance Law Protect Your Neighborhood from Big Banks?" it explores both the theory and the application of public nuisance law in litigation and public policy development. It suggests that confusion about the doctrine has led to misapplication in litigation, including some suits against the business practices of banks. However, it argues for use of public nuisance doctrine against real property owners who let their property's condition interfere with the property rights and the health, safety and welfare of the public protected by the municipal exercise of police power.
This announcement was made today by Clinical Professor Kermit Lind:
The time has come to announce my resignation as a Clinical Professor at Cleveland-Marshall. I am looking forward to continuing my professional life elsewhere without the day-to-day responsibilities of managing a law practice.
The sixteen years here in what is now the Urban Development Law Clinic and the Law and Public Policy Clinic have been very fulfilling. This is the best job of my life. I am able to look with satisfaction on the growth of the Clinic both in size and significance. My years here were enriched by ushering students into the practice of their profession, by meeting some of the legal challenges of Cleveland’s community development organizations and by the affirmation of my work by many of my law faculty colleagues. I will especially miss my clinical colleagues, staff and students.I am looking forward to a new chapter in my professional life -- one in which I hope to consult as special counsel where my experience and expertise may be useful, to work on some research and writing projects I have in mind, and to engage in short-term teaching and training. Meanwhile, I will continue in the Clinic until the end of this coming June.
An Associated Press story on how nonprofits are collaborating with banks to rescue distressed houses for productive use and owner-occupancy shows what the UDLC's clients are doing in Cleveland. Nonprofits of various types all around the country are finding ways to make deals with banks to acquire houses before the market of absentee investors and speculators can abuse them.
The Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization rescued more than 72 houses on Cleveland's west side. It and other neighborhood-based nonprofit clients of the UDLC have been leaders in this effort for several years. The nonprofit Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation is raising the capacity for recycling housing all over the county.
Students in clinical practice are providing legal services to facilitate these transactions and the rehabilitation work. They also participate in the development and advocacy of public policies and programs needed to stem the tide of abandonment and nuisance conditions that threaten the beneficial results of the good work described in the news report.
Here is a link to the report. http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2010/12/nonprofits_getting_first_shot.html
The nuisance abatement case against Deutsche Bank for refusing and failing to comply with local and state laws is continuing in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. The case was remanded to the district court in a decision by the Sixth Circuit reported below in an earlier bulletin. Judge Christopher Boyko was assigned the case after two judges recused themselves from hearing it. A news report by Mahri Saito on Cleveland's NPR station appears today at http://www.ideastream.org/news/feature/37557.
The case was originally filed two years ago this month by Cleveland Housing Renewal Project (CHRP), a subsidiary of Neighborhood Progress, Inc. The UDLC has been assisting in the litigation. The UDLC has represented CHRP and other nonprofit developers in nuisance abatement cases over the past decade.
Nathan Wagner and Zachariah Germaniuk, both 2Ls, accepted appointments this week as Fellows in the Urban Development Law Clinic. These are two new fellowships being added to the six already in effect for this year. The fellowships provide a stipend of $2,400 for the Spring and Fall semesters and $2,000 for the Summer semester.
Nathan and Zach will be joining Fellows, Sung Kim and Zac Oakes, assigned to the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization where they are working on acquisitions and other real property transactions, usually involving housing with special title problems. Other Fellows, Sunny Nixon and Robert Hern, are in a program that provides legal counsel and assistance on toxic title problems to defendants in pending cases in the Cleveland Housing Court. Douglas Sawyer and Michael Tangry are assigned to the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation (land bank).
These new appointments brings the total number of UDLC fellowships to eight. It is expected that grants for all fellowships will be renewed and that recruitment of six fellows for terms ending in May of 2012 will take place in March, 2011.
For more on the UDLC Fellowship Program, see this link: www://sites.google.com/site/cmudlc1/Home/fellowship-programs
Next American City, a new national magazine focused on urban development issues, has a feature article on the nuisance abatement lawsuits brought against Wells Fargo and Deiutsche Bank to enforce their compliance with Cleveland and Ohio laws against maintaining residences they own in a nuisance condition.
The plaintiff in the two cases is a subsidiary of Neighborhood Progress, Inc., one of the UDLC's clients. Lead counsel for the plaintiff is C|M LAW graduate, Tom Wagner of Van Deusen and Wagner, LPA, with the UDLC providing co-counsel and litigation support. The cases were filed December 18, 2008. The case against Deutsche Bank is now scheduled for a trial early in the fall of 2011.
Here is a link to the article. http://americancity.org/columns/entry/2736/
More information about nuisance abatement litigation is available at the Presentations link in the sidebar to the left.