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NIC helps owner get her house painted



Published: Tue, October 24, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Sherwin-Williams donated paint for the project on the city's South Side.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- The nonprofit Neighborhood Improvement Corps strives to help those who help themselves -- just ask Cathy Hupp.

The 54-year-old East Lucius Avenue woman's house was in dire need of a paint job. She'd already replaced the roof, gutters and downspouts but didn't have the funds to paint the two-story house.

After receiving a citation for a housing code violation, Hupp, because she'd done so much on her own, became a candidate for the NIC, said Anthony Farris, deputy law director. Farris also serves as Municipal Judge Robert P. Milich's housing court prosecutor.

The NIC, using a portion of a $5,000 Kennedy Family Foundation grant, hired a contractor to scrape, prime and paint Hupp's house, Farris said. The contractor's cost was roughly $2,600.

Sherwin-Williams donated all the paint.

The judge, Farris and others associated with the NIC gathered Monday morning at Hupp's South Side home for a press conference.

"This is just the beginning," Judge Milich said. "There are a lot of resources in this community. I hope we can make a lot of progress with this approach."

Hupp, smiling as she stood in her driveway, expressed her gratitude. "I sent in an application to the NIC -- they were looking for someone who was trying -- and I was trying," she said.

Hupp's house, with a fresh coat of drab-olive paint, also sports three carved pumpkins perched on the porch railing. The pumpkins are carved with the initials N-I-C instead of scary faces.

Jamael Brown, a member of the NIC board of directors, said the goal is housing code compliance, not penalties. He thanked Mayor Jay Williams, Judge Milich, Farris, city council and others for supporting the nonprofit group.

How this usually works

Farris said Hupp's situation is atypical, explaining that the NIC generally distributes paint to homeowners so they can do it themselves.

He said the NIC desperately needs charitable organizations, businesses and individuals to believe in the neighborhood projects and offer to help. He said no one group can handle all the fix-ups.

Councilman Mark Memmer, D-7th, said he hopes the success of Hupp's painting project will encourage donations and volunteers for the NIC.

Farris said homeowners who receive a code violation can appeal, which allows the NIC to consider who needs help. To learn more about the NIC, residents can call (330) 742-8874.

Bill D'Avignon, city deputy director of planning, said surveys revealed that 3,500 structures were in need of repair. He said the NIC provides a means by which property owner assistance and community based organizational support can work in conjunction with focused code enforcement.

He said nearly $1.2 million has been spent this year to demolish 300 blighted structures.

meade@vindy.com




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