“Ohio in general was the wild, wild West,” Cuyahoga County treasurer Jim Rokakis said. “When it came to regulation, there wasn’t any.”
Mr. Rokakis said that wasn’t the case in Pennsylvania, where the state did a better job of cracking down on predatory lenders. His attempts to lobby legislators in Columbus to strengthen this state’s regulations and monitoring were often rebuffed, Mr. Rokakis said.
Claudia Coulton, co-director of the Center on Urban Poverty & Community Development and a professor of urban research and social change at the Mandel School of Applied Social Science at Case Western Reserve University, said the huge lobbying effort by lenders against such regulations likely contributed to a lack of control here, and the explosion of the region’s foreclosure problem.
People in Ohio “needed better consumer protection,” Ms. Coulton said. Many new homeowners were cheated by the fine print.
In Pennsylvania, the state benefited from a wave of foreclosures earlier in the decade that led to the drafting of more stringent lending legislation, said Sabina Deitrick, an assistant professor of urban affairs in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.
Ms. Deitrick said because Pennsylvania “reigned in things” earlier in the decade, the state positioned itself to minimize the impact of another wave of foreclosures. In Ohio, she said, there were fewer limitations and fewer rules monitoring what people could do.
“It looks like a free-for-all,” she said. “The volume here was not the same. There were fewer controls on people getting loans and lenders in the Ohio market.”
Bad mortgages helped to undermine National City. You might say that the Cleveland bank shot itself in the foot. Instead of blaming Pittsburgh or national economic recovery policies, Cleveland should hold its own politicians into account for the job losses and the damaged civic pride.