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Occupy Youngstown rallies to promote use of land banks

Published: Wed, May 23, 2012 @ 12:07 a.m.


Sean O’Toole, left, Joshua Kessner and Jim Villani protest the Mahoning County sheriff ’s sale of homes that were to be auctioned off Tuesday. O’Toole and Kessner are members of Occupy Youngstown. The Occupy group says land banks should be used to hold and transfer property.

By Sean Barron



After having lived in Youngstown for a year, Joshua Kesner wanted to own a home in the city, but too much urban blight put a damper on those plans.

“We’re throwing people out on the streets so [banks] can make a profit,” Kesner, of Liberty, said in explaining his decision to take part in a demonstration Tuesday outside the Mahoning County Courthouse.

He was one of several members and supporters of Occupy Youngstown who were in the 90-minute rally to protest a sheriff’s sale Tuesday in the courthouse basement at which 65 residential properties were to have been auctioned off.

The group opposes the use of such sales as a way of distributing properties in foreclosure or other transfer processes.

Instead, OY supports using land banks to hold the properties and proposes that reacquisition opportunities be a core component of land banks, the group said.

Kesner, a Youngstown State University student, lamented that several homes he considered buying two years ago are now in decline. He added he feels sheriff’s sales allow many properties to be sold for a profit with little or no incentive for the buyer to keep them up.

“Sheriff’s sales add insult to injury,” he said. “They’re not contributing to the solution” for turning around blighted neighborhoods that often become havens for crime and drug activity.

Kesner acknowledged he doesn’t have the answer for solving the foreclosure problem but said he feels banks that buy such homes should be obligated to invest in and maintain them.

Sean O’Toole of Youngstown, an OY member, said he would like to see land banks in the area adopt more procedures for buyers of such properties to bring them into compliance with city codes.

O’Toole said that during the winter, OY members fed homeless people, many of whom had lost their homes for reasons that weren’t their fault, such as job loss.

Also demonstrating was Jim Villani, owner of Pig Iron Press on North Phelps Street downtown.

O’Toole stressed that the demonstrators are not protesting the sheriff’s department, which has to do its job. Instead, they oppose what they see as unfair foreclosure practices as well as the ability of many financial institutions to buy then neglect many parcels, adding to blight.

“We support what they do,” he said of law enforcement. “We want to see fairness.”


1bmanresident(597 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

We need to start rallying against Occupy Youngstown.
We could start by voting out Bumbling Bob.

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2hmm(184 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Ianacek , so.true there is a vacant house that I have been maintaning its appearance since 08.when the owner died .... Has delinquent taxes of course yet the city nor bank will sell it .... Plus there are 4 vacant city.lots that.have been that way for 25 years... The minor taxes are paid on 2 of them but when we complain about the grass and garabage nothing is done by the owners or the city. Adjacent property owners should have first pick of purchasing these vacant lots for back.taxes before anyone else since they have s vested interest in the neighbor

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3UticaShale(854 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

there is nothing stopping you from buying those vacant lots next door to you. The county set up tax cert. sales for neighbors to do this six years ago. Plus you had Lien Forward for six years too.

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4Photoman(1018 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

I have noticed that, in some neighborhoods, nearby residents have had enough pride to mow the grass and do light cleanup around vacant properties. If these good folks can do this, what is wrong in the neighborhoods where it is not done? Once again it appears that too many people are just laying back and expecting government to do everything for them.

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5UticaShale(854 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Your battle is with the Occupiers and Community organizers in Youngstown. Their agenda is outright elimination of private ownership of properties. And letting government do everything for them is exactly what they want on the backs of the workers.

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6georgejeanie(887 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Let these OY go out and get a real job. Id bet 90% do not have a job, other than to raise he&&. When was the last time Jim Villiani and his Pig Iron Press payed their taxes, and I would bet this YSU student is on the government dole, feeding at the government trough.

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7jethead11(139 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

“We’re throwing people out on the streets so [banks] can make a profit". No, they are being thrown out because they stopped paying and didn't work with the bank to make alternate arrangments. These "occupiers" would do the same thing if they lent money to someone who stopped paying.

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8hmm(184 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Thanks Shale.... Guess I'm not using the correct catch phrase when I speak to the city and banks.... I'll try again

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9UticaShale(854 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

The Community Organizers cried about creating this new County Landbank, now that the legislation is passed, the Landbank can't even get off the ground. It appears that the ACORN types and Occupyers now want all abandoned City parcels to go into the landbank for their own use now that land in the Utica here is worth a fortune. The problem they are having is that private enterprise is gobbling up all the vacant lots rapidly and starting to pay taxes again due to the oil revenue. At the treaurers office last week, it took one analyst 6 hrs. just to apply paid taxes against a dormant landholding Church with 100's of vacant lots.
Thank God free enterprise has got a boost here from the minerals under Youngstown, to start investing in the City again. The problem is going to be the entitled welfare class who want redistribution led by the non profit Community Organizers.
Another good thing for us silent majority types, mostly in Suburbia and rural areas, is Youngstown is RETURNING TO ACREAGE at an alarming rate wherein, Free Enterprise is now commanding more of the land than the entitled can move fast enough on. Therefore, in the very near future, all low density acreage of the City will be private.

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10dd933(249 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Praise the Lord that people on house arrest are allowed to use computers. Probably due to some community organizing effort in the past.

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11howardinyoungstown(591 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

UticaShale is most likely Ron Esselstein.

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12BoneDigger85(4 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

Just wanted georgejeanie know what an idiot he looks like when he makes assumptions. I am the YSU student in the article. If receiving an education on the post-911 GI bill is is feeding at the government trough then I suppose I'm guilty. I see it as using an opportunity I earned fighting a war I didn't believe in for idiots like himself. Search Joshua Kesner on google and you can see who I am for yourselves. georgejeanie might want to do his homework before making personal attacks. Considering his poor betting there, I wouldn't trust that 90% jobless bet either. But I respect his right to be stupid.

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