Jim Rokakis is an urban visionary.
The Western Reserve Land Conservancy vice president and Thriving Communities Institute director is one of the nation’s leading experts on the foreclosure crisis and urban revitalization. Rokakis has testified before Congress, and his tireless work to help neighborhoods with vacant, abandoned and dangerous homes has been featured on “60 Minutes” and in The Washington Post and The New York Times.
After serving on Cleveland City Council for 19 years – the last seven as chairman of the finance committee – Rokakis took office as Cuyahoga County Treasurer in 1997. Faced with Cuyahoga County’s mortgage foreclosure crisis, Rokakis helped to write and pass Ohio House Bill 294, which streamlined the foreclosure process for abandoned properties. Additionally, Rokakis was the driving force behind a bill that allowed for the creation of the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation, also known as the Cuyahoga County Land Bank. It was the first county land bank in Ohio.
Under his leadership, Thriving Communities Institute has helped establish county land banks throughout Ohio and has secured millions of dollars in needed demolition funding for cities across the state. In addition, Thriving Communities has launched strong property survey, reforestation and research programs.