housing

A House Made of Straw

Nov 28, 2014
Bob Brecha

When University of Dayton professor Bob Brecha and his wife decided to have a home built awhile back, they were intrigued by the idea of having straw as the key ingredient; stacks of it, covered by mud plaster. And if that sounds flimsy, possibly cold, listen to his story of the making of a strawbale house in Yellow Springs.

 

An under-maintained home in a black neighborhood.
Miami Valley Fair Housing

Cities in Ohio and around the country are continuing to recover from the housing bust, but some neighborhoods may be having an easier time than others. A new study by the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) finds banks are doing a better job with upkeep on foreclosed homes in white neighborhoods than neighborhoods of color.

NFHA worked with groups in 29 metro areas, including Dayton and Toledo, to inspect thousands of bank-owned homes.

 A complex new set of rules designed to limit risky loans is in place as of this week for mortgage bankers. The regulations were developed in response to the 2008 financial crisis.

That 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law was, among other things, supposed to make it harder for banks to issue mortgages fast and loose.

Lewis Wallace / WYSO

Recently Dave Chesar of Oakwood heard a story we did about the 6,000 abandoned properties in Dayton.

"At the end of the piece it said that the one thing that needs to happen is people need to start purchasing the properties," Chesar said. So he wondered: how do you actually do that? Who do you call? Is there a list? "Who really is the person, or group that can kind of transform those 6,000 vacant and distressed properties into properties that have a name, price and location?"

Lewis Wallace / WYSO

Last month WYSO reported that an Illinois-based hedge fund had purchased about one in eleven homes in the town of Huber Heights. The company made national news by asking Montgomery County to reduce its property taxes by over a million dollars. Now the results are in—and they weren’t as hard on the local budget as expected.

Twin Towers in Dayton. St. Mary's Church, in the background, is central to the neighborhood's history. east side east end
Lewis Wallace / WYSO

The Twin Towers neighborhood in Dayton was established more than a hundred years ago, and it’s been through a lot. Recently 84 new houses opened in the area for low-income families through a public-private partnership organized by East End Community Services. But what does this mean for a neighborhood trying to turn itself around?

 

Lewis Wallace / WYSO

Just down the block from the tall church towers that give Twin Towers its name, there’s a surprising image: instead of Dayton’s classic, old wood homes you see a block full of brand new wood homes in a similar style.

 

WYSO/Lewis Wallace

Six Montgomery County school districts have new tax levies on the ballot this November, some for the third, fourth or fifth time. But many homeowners oppose any new taxes, citing losses in property values and the overall post-recession fiscal squeeze among reasons to vote against new levies.

WYSO/Lewis Wallace

A story in Bloomberg earlier this week found that hedge fund Magnetar has bought up a significant chunk of the rental stock in Montgomery County’s Huber Heights—and then requested a major reduction in those properties’ values. That reduction, if approved, could affect the city’s taxes and levies.

Home sales numbers are out for September, and the greater Dayton area shows an increase of 21 percent compared to September of 2012. The dollar volume in the first nine months of the year, $1.3 billion, also increased 21 percent compared to the first nine months of 2012.

Nancy Farkas of the Dayton Area Board of Realtors says she sees the most growth in places like Kettering, Centerville and Beavercreek. But overall, she says the outlook is positive across the board.

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