Xenia sells off first crop of long-foreclosed homes in historic neighborhood revitalization effort

The city of Xenia has sold off the first five in potentially a series of long-foreclosed homes, as part of a plan to incentivize homeowners to not just repair those homes, but to plant roots in Xenia.

City council recently approved selling five properties to Xenia’s Community Improvement Corporation, which has a little more flexibility in moving those properties into the hands of private rehabbers — and eventually, families, said Xenia Community Development Coordinator Ryan Baker.

“Our goal is to see the properties returned to owner-occupied single family residence. That’s how you help these neighborhoods in the long term,” Baker said.

Many of the properties are on Xenia’s east side, some of them in historical neighborhoods. Some of the properties have houses still on them, while others have been demolished.

The properties will be sold through the city’s CIC, with the caveat that if the property is fixed up for residence, it will have to be owner-occupied for at least five years.

“You get a little more stability in the neighborhoods with an owner-occupied property here and there, especially some of our more historic neighborhoods,” Baker said.

While there is still a need for quality rental properties in the city, some of Xenia’s neighborhoods have swung well the other way, where there’s very few owner-occupied homes, Baker said.

“That’s to try to add some stability to those neighborhoods, and a little less high turnover where properties are just chewing through tenants year after year,” he said. “We still need rentals, but I feel like some of these older historic neighborhoods can use some stability like they were two decades ago.”

Several people, many of them local, have already expressed interest, Baker said. The CIC has also fielded preliminary requests from neighbors and other property owners to put them back in productive use in other ways.

The city’s program is still very much in the pilot stages, Baker said, but more properties of this kind may come through the pipeline in the future. City data from earlier this year shows Xenia has 29% of delinquent property taxes in Greene County (meaning more than a year’s worth of property taxes past due) but only 15% of its population. Most of these properties are located on the east side, with many abandoned and their owners deceased or unreachable. Greene County recently began ramping up the number of foreclosures it handles in a year, and several county agencies, as well as the Xenia school district, have agreed to waive their back taxes on these properties.

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