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Recession's fallout continues to dog Lorain County

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Lorain County is still feeling the effects of the housing market crisis that took hold at the end of 2007, according to data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The data, which is part of the annual American Community Survey comparing two five-year periods, show all eight cities in the county have seen a decrease in the number of people that own homes as well as the overall value of the homes.

“Nearly all of the county saw double-digit declines in owner-occupied property valuation in the 2011 to 2015 period compared to the 2006 to 2010 period and, based upon the data, urban areas and areas abutting urban areas experienced the steepest declines,” Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer said. “In the last few years, year-to-year census data indicates that valuation is stabilizing, and property values in the last round of valuation a year ago showed a slight increase upward.”

Lorain saw a slight decrease in the number of owner-occupied homes and the most substantial decrease in median owner-occupied home values with a 23.3 percent decline. Elyria was not far behind with a 21.2 percent decrease.

All other communities in the county saw a decrease in the median — the midpoint between the highest and lowest — value of owner-occupied home between the two periods with the exception of Rochester and Wellington townships, which had slight increases of 3.9 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively.

The survey showed that the biggest decrease in owner-occupied homes belonged to Penfield Township, going from 100 percent to 79.5 percent.

However, Penfield Township Trustee Lloyd Gordon said that number doesn’t seem right to him because he knows of people having occupied rental properties in the community.

“I would say that in 2006 to 2010, it was probably closer to 95 percent,” he said. “I even have two rental properties. If I had to venture a guess, it would come from people buying farms in recent years and then renting, but I wouldn’t think it’s that many.”

Gordon said he was also surprised the township’s median owner-occupied home value dropped 18.2 percent, from $250,558 to $205,000, over the course of the two five-year periods.

“Usually the values go up each year when homes get appraised,” he said. “But it’s possible we took a bit of a hit from the housing bubble bursting.”

Several townships did see an increase in the number of owner-occupied homes, including Amherst, Brownhelm, Camden, Grafton, New Russia and Pittsfield.

Camden Township Trustee James Hozalski said there weren’t many housing developments added to the community between 2011 and 2015 to cause the jump from 89 percent to 97.5 percent.

“We haven’t seen a decrease in our number of rental properties or anything like that,” he said. “But we have seen an uptick in the farming community over the course of the last several years and while it ebbs and flows and was kind of short-lived, that might have had something to do with it.”

Camden also was one of four townships, as well as Grafton, New Russia and Sheffield, to see an increase in its median household income, jumping to 23.6 percent, 13 percent, 7.7 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively.

Among villages, Sheffield saw an increase in median income with 1.9 percent, while Grafton saw a decrease of 22.1 percent. Oberlin was the only city with an increase at 8.3 percent.

Overall, the county saw a decrease in average median household income, dropping 7.3 percent from $56,597 a year to $52,457 a year, as well as a 14.2 percent decrease in median home value and a 2.9 percent decrease in owner-occupied homes.

Ritenauer said counties like Lorain that have both urban and rural sections felt the effects of the subprime mortgage crisis and subsequent recession longer than others and are having a harder time bouncing back.

“We will continue to work toward the improvements and investments in our neighborhoods that we know make a positive impact on property values, but at the same time, we know that we are up against forces affecting the international and national economy that are out of our control,” he said.

Contact Katie Nix at 329-7129 or Follow her on Twitter @KatieHNix.

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