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Housing demolition program gears up in Youngstown



Published: Thu, August 23, 2012 @ 12:05 a.m.

Housing demolition program gears up in Youngstown

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The house at 1018 High St. in Youngstown was torn down Wednesday during a news conference with city and Mahoning County officials and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, facing front. Mahoning County received $1.5 million through the AG’s Moving Ohio Forward Grant Program. Of that, $1 million is going to the city.

By Denise Dick

denise_dick@vindy.com

Youngstown

Johnnie M. Wallace watched through the window of her High Street home as a city excavator tore down the blighted house across the street.

It was a welcome sight.

Wallace said the house at 1018 High, as well as the one next to it, stood vacant for a long time.

The house at 1018 was torn down Wednesday morning during a news conference with city and county officials and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Mahoning County received $1.5 million from DeWine’s Moving Ohio Forward Grant Program. Of that, $1 million is going to the city.

“We want to save neighborhoods,” DeWine said.

The grant program was created with funds from the settlement of a lawsuit by many states’ attorneys general against mortgage companies whose alleged bad acts contributed to the foreclosure crisis.

DeWine’s office allocated $75 million of Ohio’s settlement portion to eradicating blight.

“There are a lot of victims from the mortgage crisis,” DeWine said. “Some of them are people who live in houses who pay their mortgage or pay their rent, send their kids to school but live next door to a house that’s been abandoned, and two doors down is a house that’s a crack house. This is an effort to deal with that — to help these neighborhoods.”

The city is using $840,180 from its general fund as a match for the grant. DeMaine J. Kitchen, chief of staff for Mayor Charles Sammarone, said about $500,000 from its Community Development Block Grant program will be added to the demolition fund.

The city is using both its street department and private contractors to tear down the homes on the demo list. One of them is next to the house torn down Wednesday.

If a private contractor is used, the demo cost is about $7,000 including environmental work, said Dan Yemma, county treasurer.

Sammarone said cleaning up neighborhoods and getting rid of blight has been a priority of his administration.

“We’re losing population,” he said. “This is a way to not only get people to stay but get them to come back.”

Loss of population means loss of tax revenue, and that affects city services, the mayor said.

Trumbull County received about $1.2 through the grant program. The largest amount of $11.85 million went to Cuyahoga County.


Comments

1Bigben(1996 comments)posted 2 years ago

It needs to be done. But what is the long term plan? Are there going to be parks , redevelopment...? Also in the areas that they are planting trees I wonder if they could plant some native trees,oaks, hickory etc. instead of the little foreign ornamentals. At one time Youngstown was lined with beautiful towering trees.

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2Southside_Res(172 comments)posted 2 years ago

First and foremost, kudos to DeWine for his part here. It's heartwarming to see the state step up to the plate when others wouldn't. On the other hand, it would be nice if the city were a little more transparent with their demolition list. Some could arguably say this home on High Street almost falls into the category of neglect on the part of the city. DeMaine Kitchen also said that a demolition list would be published online, but instead, we get this search engine that doesn't produce anything. Will we ever see a true demo list? Will we ever see where these dilapidated properties are in the demolition process? Now that the city has earmarked $500,000 from the CDBG program, and by my calculation, the city now has $2.2 million for demolitions. Why are we still seeing no plan as also referenced in the last post? And, just when are we going to see the worst of the worst brought down? Next year? The year after? If each demolition costs $7,000 by a private contractor, then we should see about 300 structures coming down soon, right? Something tells me that the city will continue to drag its feet like it has in the past. Precedent has been set with slow or nonexistent action by the city, what truly is going to happen here?

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