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State must be proactive with foreclosure help

About 70,000 property owners joined the ranks of Ohioans facing foreclosure last year. That figure was a slight improvement over 2011, but it represents more than four times as many annual new foreclosure filings as in the mid-1990s.

Even as our state’s economy and housing market continue to recover, albeit slowly, the foreclosure crisis is not over. Much more urgently remains to be done to help homeowners — often poor, elderly, or disabled — and their families cope with the risk of losing their homes….

Housing analysts link the foreclosure figures to a variety of troubles, notably loss of household income caused by unemployment, reduced work hours, or catastrophic illness. That’s not surprising, but the diagnosis of the ailment is less important now then prescriptions for preventing foreclosures.

Those prescriptions surely include more financial help for the nonprofit groups, in Toledo and across the state, that are on the front lines of the battle against foreclosure….

Housing advocates are properly calling on Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to use part of the state’s $93 million in proceeds from the settlement last year of a national mortgage case against banks to provide financial aid to these groups. As they work on the next two-year state budget, lawmakers and Gov. John Kasich’s administration also should provide more, not less, money for counseling to prevent foreclosures, and for related efforts to relieve financial burdens on households that are at greatest risk of home foreclosures.

The (Toledo) Blade


Banking on gambling revenue is risky bet

Ohioans probably should not be terribly concerned about the substantial drop-off in revenue — and thus, a reduction in tax income for local and state governments — at the state’s four gambling casinos between March and April. But it is not too soon to worry about imprudent long-term reliance on gambling revenue.

Money has been pouring into local and state coffers from new casinos in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo. During the quarter ending March 31, the state collected $62.9 million in taxes from video and table gambling at the casinos. That was up from $52.4 million during the previous quarter….

If anything, the best may be yet to come for the operators and the local and state governments eager to rake in a new pot of revenue. Ohio’s casinos are still relatively new and may well grow. Tax income from them still has not reached the level of the four casinos in neighboring West Virginia, which paid more than $457 million in taxes last year.

But the Mountain State’s experience should be instructive to Ohioans in another way. Revenue, especially from table gambling, has been falling at three of West Virginia’s four casinos. Part of the reason is new competition from Ohio and Pennsylvania….

Even as local and state officials celebrate new revenue from Ohio’s casinos and look forward to bigger and better returns in the future, then, they should be engaged in long-range planning. The “easy money” probably will not continue flowing in forever.

Warren Tribune Chronicle