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YMHA completes $10M renovation of Brier Hill housing

Published: Wed, May 30, 2012 @ 12:01 a.m.


Dignitaries conducted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday at the Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority’s 76-unit Brier Hill Annex apartment complex, which has undergone a nearly two-year, $10 million federally funded renovation.




Michelle Nieves expressed gratitude for the new features of the Brier Hill Annex apartment she moved into Tuesday, especially its central air conditioning.

“Oh, my gosh. It’s beautiful. Everything is brand new. There are new appliances. There’s more space (than in her previous annex apartment) and there’s central air,” Nieves said. “I can’t wait to get in there,” she added.

Her belongings were in a truck outside her apartment, ready to be moved in, immediately following a Tuesday ribbon-cutting ceremony at the door of her apartment at 2779 Hammaker St. in the newly renovated complex.

Nieves, who will live in that apartment with her children, Tamara, 11, Angel, 6, and Marie, 1, lived on East Dennick Avenue on the city’s North Side during the annex’s nearly two-year, $10 million renovation.

Neither her previous annex apartment, nor the Dennick location, had air conditioning.

The abbreviated outdoor ceremony moved indoors to Nieves’ new apartment due to inclement weather late Tuesday morning after Nieves and dignitaries cut the ribbon at the Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority complex.

Residents began returning to the 76-unit, 1962-vintage apartment complex on May 17, after the renovation designed to turn the complex into a green, energy-efficient community.

During that renovation, which was paid for by federal stimulus funds, rooftop solar panels were installed, which are capable of supplying 25 percent of the development’s electrical needs.

Other new features include new insulation, new windows and doors,

recycled-content Formica counter tops, tankless water heaters and low-flow, water-conserving faucets and toilets.

“Ten million dollars of federal money has come back to this community and put people back to work and improved the quality of life in the city of Youngstown,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th.

“The city of Youngstown is on the move, and it is becoming a destination place” for economic development, he said. “These investments are necessary for us to continue” that progress, Ryan added.

Carmelita Douglas, YMHA executive director, said the authority has documented to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that the renovation created 18 jobs and retained 27 jobs.

“We were able to take an antiquated, nonefficient — as far as energy — development and turn it into a brand new green community,” she added.

“Anything we can do for our old neighborhoods to bring them back, I’ve always supported,” said Mayor Charles Sammarone.

The authority here and the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority in Cleveland were the only two public-housing authorities in Ohio funded by the competitive grant program.

The annex grant here was part of a $300 million stimulus-bill-funded package of green-energy grants to 36 public housing authorities nationwide.


1georgejeanie(1054 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Just great, this is your front page picture of the day. Three kids no husband, I assume no job, subsidized housing, food stamps. free healthcare. Why would this person choose work over this existence, she knows no different way to live other than to exist on the government dole, and not do a darn thing to make the country grow and to have some self esteem.

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2author50(1121 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

$121,000+ per unit! We taxpayers sure know how to give.

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3taxme(355 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

I agree with daikytn. Take a look at the apartments behind the giant eagle in canfield or on Indian run in canfield. Subsidised rentals. The appartments off Mathews rd in Poland. Sheilds rd appartments in Boardman. Calla rd appartments in New Middletown. Subsidised government housing is in every neighborhood. When will this waste of tax payer monies stop?

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4seagull173(5 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Did the taxpayers pay for that tatoo also? Have another kid, don't worry the taxpayers will pay for it. She's pathetic.

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5redeye1(5112 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Well this is the CHANGE that everyone voted for in 2008. Its finally come to fruitation and you are complaining. Why? The woman in the photo has money to waste on tattoos . Where did that money come from? They should be made to live in the cheapest possible conditions , maybe that would give these people incentives to improve their lifes. NO!!!!!!!I I worked on this type of projets years ago in PA. We were guaranteed work year round fixing things that the people always destroyed on a daily basis

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6georgejeanie(1054 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Where are all these bleeding heart liberals comments.?. Come on give us your take on this pathetic entitlement situation. More for nothing equals zero, and that is what you get by creating these ghettos.

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7ohdrama0901(53 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Everyone who lives in the Projects are not on welfare and unemployed first of all. I used to live in a subsidized unit before I purchased my house, paid a considerable amount of rent, and took very good care of my unit that was built with very cheap materials. People are so quick to judge others; so what she's walking around with 3 babies and tattoos. I think that would be her business as long as she is taking care of her babies what would that have to do with any of you who are posting negative comments.

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8republicanRick(1454 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

ohdrama, you say that we should not get into this lady's "business". You are right -- except she is being supported by us, the taxpayers. We paid for her heat, air conditioning and tattoo.

At $ 131,000 per apartment, I'm surprised there isn't a pool and hot tub.

Vindy, check back on this lady in 3 years to see her status. I wish her well and hope she gets a job. But sadly, I doubt it.

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9DwightK(1376 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

I know the city and Rep. Ryan want to turn this into a positive story but ten million dollars divided by 76 units is $131,000 per unit. Wouldn't that money have been better spent providing child care so the people using this housing could learn a trade and move out into non-subsidized housing?

The story focuses on the resident's reaction to her new place but there is no mention of what she is doing to make sure this is a temporary solution to her problem and not a permanent one. It also doesn't mention how much she contributes to live in the renovated apartment.

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10republicanRick(1454 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Why doesn't the Vindicator do a research article on the residents of this new Briar Hill apartments?

What is the average length of stay, average number of kids, time that each has been out of work, how long they have been on welfare, etc.

Do these residents have to pass a drug test to get in and/or keep their free apartment? If they are convicted of a crime are they kicked out? Do they each have to contribute "sweat equity" to stay (such as 4 hours a week of cleaning up the grounds, litter patrol, painting, cutting grass, etc).

Come on Vindicator, get off your butts and give us taxpayers some background on what we are paying for.

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11fang(3 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

$131,000 per unit. They could have built new houses and spread the wealth around the city.
Habitat for Humanity could have built 240 new houses with this money.
Or the city could have refurbished 500 empty houses of which there are plenty.
Remember that about 30% of the money is kept by the local agency to use as they see fit.
Typical waste and this is why Rep Ryan needs to go.

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12300(573 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

I'm wondering how many of the above posters ever claimed a mortgage deduction? Did their kids go to public schools not called Poland or Canfield?

If so, I'd like to say to all of you "You're Welcome", I helped to subsidize your lifestyles, and my state taxes helped to pay for your less privileged school district. Once again, You're Welcome.

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13fang(3 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago


Most school districts are funded by local property taxes. It is the cities that get most their school funding from the state.
The people in Poland and Canfield pay far more in taxes to support people in public housing than they receive in outside support for their schools.

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14HaydenThomas(208 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

They really wasted money on solar panels when the cost of solar is way more than the cost of other sources? How can people be permitted to procreate and not pay for their own offspring? I'll bet she also has a publicly funded cell phone, cable TV, Internet, and whatever else these parasites can get.

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15pjohn(25 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

I'm sooooo mad at Tim Ryan for bringing federal dollars to Youngstown. I wish he just let other people take them... I'm assuming that all of you posters have an income of more than $250k and pay a 28% tax rate? Average income in Youngstown? Roughly $30k at most. So how much do you really pay for these programs? And you'd rather see homeless people on Belmont? You're federal tax contribution is a drop in the bucket. Stop complaining.

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16cambridge(3335 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

According to the latest stats I know of the state of Ohio is a welfare state receiving $1.05 from the feds for every $1.00 paid in federal income tax. So since all your fed income tax is returned along with that welfare check you should stop complaining about these types of projects along with the auto loans that saved the valley from disaster and just continue to complain, "what has Obama and the Democrats done for the valley".

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17pjohn(25 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Cambridge hit the nail on the head.

If you work in Lordstown, Thank Obama. (And Jay Williams, Auto Recovery Czar).

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18peacelover(807 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

I never saw such a bunch of judgemental, hypocritical people in my life! Maybe this woman had a husband and he left her. Maybe this woman's husband is in jail. Maybe she needs to live somewhere temporarily while she studies for a degree of some kind. Maybe she has a low-paying job and pays what she can towards rent. Since nothing was mentioned in this regard in the article, how do all of you know any different? You don't. (Granted, Vindy, that might have enriched the story....)

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19LairdCormell(1 comment)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Oooh, Solar Panels! That makes it all better. Why in just 35 years they will pay for themselves. Isn't it wonderful?

Thank you Mr. Obama and Solyndra.

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20anothermike(221 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Had no idea that Ryan's intention was to bring 10 million bucks to Youngstown for the purpose of rebuilding Westlake (for I believe, the third time). Funny how folks who worked and paid taxes all of their adult life cannot get a little help on occasion, but Uncle Sam can go full boat for others. Of course the "plan" is for them to eventually help themselves, but don't hold your breath. BTW, I am a democrat..........

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21300(573 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Fang, you need to read up on how we fund public education in Ohio. Outside of Poland, Canfield, and probably now South Range and Columbiana, local property taxes barely pay 50% of the school costs.

I don't think you realize how poor most of the rural people are around here. You appear to think that it's only the inner city who are poor, but you're way off the mark. Columbiana county is incredibly poor, with rural Mahoning and Trumbull only slightly better. Except for the few districts I mentioned above, the rest are welfare recipients.

I don't have a problem with this. I'm well off, I don't mind subsidizing the less well-off. I just think it's funny when working class (and no, they're not "middle class") focus on working poor/low class, and call them out for receiving social benefits. The fact that so many of you do this just points out how little you know about your true situations.

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22peacelover(807 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

"Funny how folks who worked and paid taxes all of their adult life cannot get a little help on occasion"
There's the Affordable Care Act, for starters.... but of course the GOP/TP is fighting it.....

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23pjohn(25 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Westlake was one of the oldest housing projects in the country. Eleanor Roosevelt was at the ribbon cutting ceremony.It was a pilot program during to see if the fed should become involved in public housing. Renovation was long overdue.

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24bmanresident(605 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Brand new home at over $100,000? That's the incentive to having kids out of wedlock, no job, and milking the system. Such a shame. She probably sold her food stamps for that tattoo.

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25borylie(890 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Ryan,Sammarone and the other "dignitaries" strutting around,being so proud of what "they" did with someone else's money.
Ryan:" $10,000,000.00 of federal money". That 's $10,000,000.00 of TAX PAYERS money!

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26Fred(131 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

The treasures within also known as fine looking ladies make the expendature on these housing units very worthwhile.

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27Woody(469 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago


Let's be real. It is not $10,000,000 of federal money, it is $10,000,000 of federal money borrowed from China.

Peaselover, I would not call Obamacare help, more of a nightmare. And we don't know what we got ourselves into yet. (We have to pass it before we know what's in it - N. Pelosi) Hopefully the Supreme Court does their job and saves us from the mess that is coming.

300, I have no problem paying for public schools. As long as the students are getting a quality education and the tools needed to be productive members of society. I do however wish the money was paid local and state level and spent at the state and local level. We need to do away with the Federal Dept. of Education. Washington has no business being in that business. It is a state matter.

I put the over/under at 10 years before they have to pump another $10 million into the apartments to refurbish it again.

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28maxborenstein(27 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

A private concern could have built all-new conventional apartments for much less. Ownership and maintenance of all "public"/subsidized housing should be by private concerns via section 8. At least section 8 slumlords won't waste over $100K per unit. Only government is that retarded. Units that will pass section 8 standards aren't worth more than $20K in this market.

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29lumper(291 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

at least she hasn't missed too many meals !!!!

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30LawDoc(38 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago


Enjoy it. It's only a matter of time before the bottom of the bucket falls out.

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31Askmeificare(803 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Michelle Nieves can afford luxuries such as a tatoo, why then can"t she afford to pay her own way for housing and insurance and live like REAL people do?!?!?!

"... Nieves, who will live in that apartment with her children, Tamara, 11, Angel, 6, and Marie, 1,... ".


Haven't we ALL had enough of these losers taking our tax dollars?!?!?!

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32pjohn(25 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

breaking news: her cousin owns a tattoo parlor. tattoo was free.

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33republicanRick(1454 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

This woman seems like a nice person, well kept, pleasant and the baby looks healthy and well cared for.

But, she is a product of the government system of "nanny state" where the feds pay for all living expenses.

She is just another resident of the liberal plantation. Our economic system cannot continue on this path where people cannot think for themselves and are slaves to the government.

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34devilsadvocate(1 comment)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Before half of those that posted comments quit their jobs to join the ranks of those that reap the "rewards" from being on "welfare", lets consider a few things.

Did the story say that Ms. Nieves has no job or that she has no future, no plans, no dreams, no potential? I don't remember reading that she gets everything for free. Are those just assumptions not based on fact perhaps? Does it make you feel better to try to belittle those that are less fortunate?

Let's suppose for a moment that despite the fact that she is a single mom with three kids, she gets up and goes to work every day, then she takes classes at a local college in the evening to try to better herself. Then, lets remember that if she is working, she must be paying rent, childcare, and so on.

Perhaps everyone is dealt a different hand in life, and maybe some things are beyond her control. Perhaps misfortune could befall any one of us and tomorrow someone may say cruel and hurtful things about us without knowing the whole story.

As far as the "wonderful" new housing, have any of you actually been in that neighborhood lately? I would hardly call it a desireable area to live in. There are much nicer areas, much safer too.

Maybe the grass isn't greener on the other side. Maybe we should be thankful for what we have. Maybe we should remember that there may have been a time in our lives when we needed help.

Where is our sense of decency? What is becoming of our humanity???

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35TylerDurden(367 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

We had good run after WWII and up through the early 1990's.

Now the Republic is on fire and the ignorant are breathing gas at an enormous rate.

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36jaycat(8 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Love the fact that she can have three kids...no mention of a father or a job, and can afford a tatoo...must be nice!!

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37peacelover(807 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Love the fact that many posters here who scream to de-fund Planned Parenthood would criticize a poor person for having 3 kids.

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38VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

People spoken for...

Approximately 75% of the remarks here come from working Americans who sound frustrated with our social issues, which appear to be slanting in favor of the poor. This comes at a time when the economy is still in bad straights and people have really cut back or suffered in order to make ends meet. Then, we see the government spending millions they don't have to upgrade the lives of "entitlement" people. The writing is on the wall. Our taxes will go up soon to pay for all of this spending and its coming off the backs of all those who are working everyday just to pay bills and feed their families. If there is any time for compassion, it is now...show some compassion for the working family! Give us a break!

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39TylerDurden(367 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

"Sure VIND, im a working guy with a family too. But id like to see some help from the other end who can really afford it. Not take the shirt off somebodys back when thats the only shirt they have."

Don't tell me, English teacher, or public orator..wait, both?

It's always someone else's fault and duty to rectify your own failure to achieve, even in the modest task which was your charge. You should have gotten better grades, received a higher education, and taken advantage of the opportunites. Now you just sit in an ignorant atmosphere hating everybody who did achieve.

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40prodigy1028(1 comment)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Okay, I had to sign up just to comment.

To the above poster that said "You should have gotten better grades, received a higher education, and taken advantage of the opportunities." Yes, that's the answer to everything! Acadamia! Yet another broken system. Here, let's go to college, get X degrees and dig ourselves a nice hole of debt that will take years to climb out of, while jobs in our chosen field are scarce.

You're another of the "get good grades" dreamers. Having gone through what I have, I'm dead tempted to tell my kids to skip on college and create their own opportunities. A piece of paper is hardly a prerequisite unless you want to slave to a large corporation for a "secure" job that's anything but and could be yanked at anytime. Dare I say that colleagues my same age that skipped on college are better off at the same position in life now, having not accrued the debts associated with higher education. The only difference between us, maybe I get to sit at a desk while they labor outside today. Heck that may not be true, as some splinter off from roofing or landscaping jobs and start their own businesses and are now their own boss, with other grunts to do the heavy lifting. All without "better grades" or staying on topic, "government assistance".

Let's take the "entitlement" process a step further. My wife works alongside several people that receive these benefits; yes, working class people that are still living off the government nipple. They get subsidized housing, utilities, transportation, food stamps, healthcare, etc. The full works. Think about it working America, if you didn't have to pay for your house, medical or trip to the grocery store, how much more money would you have in your pocket? Answer: enough to drive a brand new Lincoln Navigator! (True story.)

Just reading that these units averaged 130k in improvements EACH makes me sick. I have a home on the South Side that was just under 50k and I had to fight to get a loan since I was in my mid-20's with a disconnection charge for my cell phone (from years earlier) "ruining" my credit, so I had to go via the FHA route. What a joke, all for a sub-50k home, and I don't have central air like these "unfortunate" souls.

What it really comes down to is, would you rather sit on your butt or be a burger flipper? Think about it. The minimum wage employee has to pay for their home, their car and fuel (and state mandated insurance) medical insurance, utilities, plus put food in their mouth. At $8 per hour, BEFORE taxes, is it really worth slaving over the fryer when you can do far less and end up with a lot more via entitlements?

Quit crying that we don't want to help the less fortunate. What we're really asking is for them to want to help themselves, but giving them posh environments that have luxuries that hard working people don't even have (see A/C comment) shows just what is broken with this country and our priorities.

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41franc004(71 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

VINDYAK, One of the beauties of ridiculous, anonymous discussion boards is they allow people to just throw out "facts" that they've pulled out of thin air. How exactly do you know that 75% of the posters here are "working Americans"? Seems to me I could be an unemployed Canadian up in Toronto with nothing better to do...just sayin...

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42bfpeer(26 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Haha I just had to put my 2 cents in Lol. First off don't be mad at her. Maybe this is a temporary stay or maybe not. Maybe this women is very smart. Goes to work school exc. and fools the government. lol There are many people I have seen who will go about getting all the free stuff they can get while having full time jobs etc. while working the government. We can't get mad at her get mad at the stupid beeeep people who came up with the retarded ideal of wasting all that money on this development and the many other ones they are tearing down and rebuilding in youngstown example westlake. We all know it will be nice for a short time but sooner or later will with go to the crapper Again! Yeah they have central air and right now with the heat being on death outside it really sucks for the people who don't. Solar panels, ha who cares the tobacco/drug of choice residue is going to cover them. But we all know once the roaches come in and they infest the unit it ,does it really matter if you have a/c or not if roach eggs spray at your face while the air is blowing? Hell no! You will either run or live in that nasty a$$ place. So we need to quit complaining about this poor who or should we say Smart woman ( who probably pulled a fast one) or maybe needs a handout temporarily(hopefully) and kick the buts of the dumb a$$s who voted for these tards to pull a fast one on all of us tax payers who helped pay for this place, hey maybe some of these people who are actually who are living there are paying too while living there for free! We don't know!

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43youngstownsucks(4 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

The government is not your baby daddy.

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44uptowngirl(125 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

youngstownsucks I am with you here. Don't blame us--the democrats wanted this class war. The people that are working hard just to get by are sick of their taxes supporting eveyone else. It is no longer the evil rich, it is everyone who pays taxes against those who pay none.

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45jaycat(8 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

I think if you are on public assistance...that you should not be compensated for more than two children...Go ahead and have more...but the rest are on YOU...think of how much money would be saved...and how many uncared for and neglected children, would be not born, it these welfare queens weren't getting paid for them!!!

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46southsidedave(5076 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

I really enjoy the discussion boards on such a hot topic as public housing. The bottom line is that a very small portion of our society needs help; yet, we will always have those who seek to exploit the system.

Whether Michelle Nieves actually needs help or is using the system to her advantage, I do not know. Yet, apparently she qualifies for certain services. Peace.

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47jaycat(8 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

People are just getting tired...Tired of supporting these users...I mean..what possible incentive is there to work...when you get all of this for free..and don't even get me started that they don't even have to take a drug test...to get the benefits...that I HAD to take a drug test..to be able to give them!

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48ohdrama0901(53 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

I don't care where the woman and her kids are living as long as they are not living on the streets. For those who did work hard all of their lives and were fortunate to purchase a home as myself be thankful for your blessing. I don't know this womans situation nor am I really concerned. My main concern is that her children have a roof over there head and live in safe environment. Your taxpayers go to alot of places that you are not aware of so who says that they went into renovating these units? Since when did the government actually tell you where your tax dollars were being spent? If you'r 100% where it's going let me in cus I would sure like to know where mine are going and I bet you it's not anywhere around where I live. After you pay your taxes they can do whatever they want with your money so however way you B***** about it going to public housing or anything having to do with assisting a less than fortunate human you don't have a clue. You may have paid taxes to get your Governor's house remodeled or paid for a big gala or charitable event; you never know! I'm so sick of people saying my tax dollars this and my tax dollars that when in reality you don't even control your tax dollars.

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49macruz81(1 comment)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

To everyone who made it a point to single Michelle out and place a red bullseye on her and her three children I have a few words.

First, I agree some incorrigible souls should pay for taking advantage of the system but don't group everyone in that category. Remember...your mom, dad, sister, brother, children, or yourself may be using those services some day.

Second, her circumstances are none of your business and you have no place to judge her because of what services that OUR government has put in place for people in need. Pick up that first stone you hypocrite because lord knows you're all high and mighty.

Third, I pray that you never find yourself losing a loved one and living on a single income, losing your home to a fire or another natural disaster and being homeless, losing your job and having to give up your home, that a terminal illness falls upon your loved ones and the bills become surmountable causing you to give up that lavish life and file bankruptcy. Yes these situations can happen to ANYONE including you, how dare you criticize this woman? Do you feel more privileged than her? Do you use the bathroom different than her? Is your money a different color because you have more of it? Do you not bleed red? Before you criticize take a look in the mirror and tell yourself shut up!

May GOD bless you all - fascist jerks!

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50mudduck(31 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

Never spend your money before you have earned it.
Thomas Jefferson

most people are just upset that a large number of these homes are being taken advantage by people with no desire to ever work and live off everyone else's dime. ever drive by these places.. tons of new cars, direct tv dishes, cell phones, no one working and no one taking care of the place around them. abusers. FACT.

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51mudduck(31 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

one more thing there are 1000s of vacant homes in youngstown. couldn't these have been rehabilitated? oh yes its not up to these people's "standards" no central air for when they plop down to watch day time TV all day while others work.

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