Foreclosures Have Been Rising Steadily

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The number of foreclosures in Ohio has more than doubled since 1994, increasing steadily even during good economic times, according to a new study.

Policy Matters Ohio, a Cleveland-based advocacy group for people with low incomes, found 43,419 properties were foreclosed in the state last year, compared with 17,026 in 1994, for a 155 percent increase.

The study being released Friday is believed to be one of the first comprehensive attempts to compile the number of foreclosures statewide.

"We certainly didn't expect to see an increase of this scale," said Amy Hanauer, executive director of Policy Matters. "This is taking place all around the state, in affluent counties, counties of modest means, rural counties and urban counties."

Nationally, foreclosures are at their highest level in 30 years, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association of America. Doug Duncan, chief economist for the association, blamed the weak economy.

But Paul Bellamy of the Ohio Community Reinvestment Project said the economy doesn't adequately explain the increase. Foreclosures have risen steadily since 1995, including years when the state's economy was robust and the unemployment rate was falling, he said.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)