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There could be more to the story



Published: Wed, March 28, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

There could be more to the story

When I read about the plight of Rik Blake, the veteran who bought a house sight-unseen on the North side, I had mixed feelings. Of course I felt sorry for him; but then again, buying a home without due diligence is a risky proposition. There’s enough information and bad press out there about Youngstown to provide some inkling of possible problems.

But I don’t believe our reputation for crime and corruption represents the true heart and soul of this town. When I read about the outpouring of help for Mr. Blake, I was reminded that this city has many, many people with enormous hearts and generous spirits.

So, what was it about Mr. Blake’s situation that mobilized these people? The story in The Vindicator pictured a guy in a crisis situation that was thrust upon him. In any crisis, say a tornado or tsunami, our instinct is to take action. But after 20 or 30 similar disasters, that sense of urgency disappears. We begin to suffer from crisis fatigue

When it comes to neighborhood renewal, I believe the people of Youngstown suffer from crisis fatigue. The city has notoriously overlooked enforcement of property maintenance, and properties have been allowed to fall into dangerous disrepair. Depending on your viewpoint, the fault lies with the city (lack of manpower, disorganization, or corruption), the economy (joblessness and poverty), or with the residents themselves (lazy low-lifes who refuse to care for their homes). In any case, as the blight continues to spread and entire neighborhoods are written off, the situation feels overwhelming and impossible to fix.

But Blake’s situation shows that ordinary citizens can make a difference, when properly focused. In every neighborhood there are people like Rik Blake who have made mistakes, suffered some loss or disability, or just grown too old to help themselves. Why should this outpouring of help on the North Side be a one-time effort? Why can’t we use this example as a starting point to mobilize similar efforts for others who want their homes to look better and be safer, but can’t do, or afford to do, the work themselves?

It will be a wonderful thing when Mr. Blake’s house is rehabbed and inhabitable. But as it stands now, when it’s done, the truth feels more like this: one down, 3,000 more to go.

Liz Hill, Youngstown


Comments

1PhilKidd(186 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Well said. Thanks for taking the time to write this, Liz.

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2connielaudrdle(8 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Thank You Liz --- There's been many ups, downs, rumors to this story. My goal before this huge undertaking was to help the elderly neighbor, single mom, anyone that just needs help, especially addressing a safety or code issue. The difference between a natural disaster on the other side of the country or the world, is that it was local. That's the biggest part of this story I'll take with me for life, is how wonderful the people of Youngstown were!!!

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3peggygurney(391 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Very good letter Liz, and I agree with you 100%.

I absolutely do NOT want this to be a one-time-thing, which is why we created the Youngstown Neighbors for Neighbors group on Facebook. It is my hope that people will let us know about those in need so that we can reach out to help them, and make this more than just a one-time event.

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4whitesabbath(738 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

he turned out to be a drug addict , con

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