TRUMBULL COUNTY Housing agency denies request for new project



North Avenue Elementary will be razed this fall for housing.
By TIM YOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
GIRARD -- A state agency has turned down an application for housing tax credits that would have been used to construct a senior citizen housing project.
"I was not very keen on it," Mayor James J. Melfi said of the project, noting a portion would be set aside to house the severely mentally handicapped, who would not be supervised.
Melfi vetoed a resolution passed by city council supporting the Harry Street project, which was approved by lawmakers while he was on vacation in March.
Letter
The mayor and council have received a letter from Girard Elderly LLC of Youngstown saying its application to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency for tax credits has been denied.
"I am writing to let you know that unfortunately this project was not successful," Phil Smith of Girard Elderly wrote.
"We strongly feel that this housing would make a significant, positive impact in the proposed neighborhood and that this housing opportunity would greatly improve the lives of the future residents," Smith added.
Smith explained that the company has plans to resubmit the application next year.
The development would have been constructed by NRP Group LLC of Cleveland and turned over to a nonprofit organization to operate.
A spokesman for OHFA said Girard Elderly was created to make the application and see that the housing was constructed. NRP would have been the general contractor and developer, while Choice Inc. of Youngstown would have been the nonprofit group to operate it when completed.
The spokesman said Girard Elderly was turned down because its application wasn't competitive. OHFA had 96 applications and 48 were approved.
Rents would have ranged from $214 to $482 per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
City lawmakers approved a resolution that said at least 5 percent of the 48 two-bedroom apartments would be set aside for "a special needs population of individuals who are affected by a severe and persistent mental illness."
No supervision
During a meeting with an NRP representative, Melfi said he found out the mentally ill would not be supervised in a residential neighborhood.
Melfi said that although he doesn't have anything against the mentally ill, "the unknown with lack of regular supervision is not something that rests very well with me."
The mayor said he believes that 20 percent of the apartments set aside should be used for "a special needs population of individuals who are affected by a mobility or sensory impairment."
It isn't unusual, Melfi said, for seniors to have such problems and they would qualify for the rent-subsidized housing.
Melfi said he didn't want the Harry Street housing to interfere with housing that will be constructed for the elderly, handicapped and those of low income on the site around the former North Avenue Elementary.
The Trumbull Metropolitan Housing Authority intends to build a 30- to 40-unit apartment building on the city's North Side.
The land is owned by Dr. Chandler Kohli, a neurosurgeon and Youngstown State University trustee.
Donald Emerson Jr., TMHA director, said his agency is working on the best way to finance the project.
Nonetheless, the old school will be razed this fall, he said, with the city paying a maximum $60,000 of the cost.
There is no timetable for construction, Emerson added.
yovich@vindy.com

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