The move to create an “abandon free” zone near the Cleveland Clinic and MetroHealth Medical Center began today in Cleveland. As ideastream’s Brian Bull reports, the initiative began with several million dollars, and the roar of an excavator….

Officials made the announcement in front of a derelict home on East 90th Street. Its partially caved-in roof and rotting plywood door mirrored that of other dilapidated houses nearby.

But not for long.

The structure had the dubious honor of being the first home demolished under a $2 million initiative from the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office. Tim McGinty says it’s to cut crime, stabilize property values, and make the area safer.

“The burglars, the gangs, the drug sales…we’ve had murders,” says McGinty. “We have had murders off of 93rd that are unsolved right now, they’re operating out of these abandoned homes.”

An estimated 250 homes are expected to be razed with the County Prosecutor’s funding, which is partly gleaned from late taxes on forfeitures, and money recovered from illicit activity. It’s hoped that development will improve in the areas surrounding Greater Cleveland’s health care providers, which are seen as major economic generators for the region.

City Council President Kevin Kelley is grateful towards the County Prosecutor’s Office for its help.

“This is a very creative use of funds that could have been directed elsewhere,” says Kelley. “But in looking at the neighborhood to the city of Cleveland, and the relationship between the neighborhoods and crime and what we deal with on a neighborhood basis, and what the prosecutor deals with from trying to fight crime, it was a natural marriage, and it was a smart way to use these funds to invest in our neighborhoods.”

The targeted homes circle the campuses of the Cleveland Clinic or MetroHealth Medical Center. Some structures may be rehabilitated rather than destroyed.