The Mahoning County Landbank wants to obtain ownership of dilapidated houses in certain areas
By David Skolnick
The Mahoning County Land Bank is looking to obtain ownership of dilapidated houses in certain areas of the county for a federal demolition program.
But those who want to do so need to act fast as Friday is the deadline to return a completed form expressing interest in giving the land bank ownership.
The application is on the Youngstown website — cityofyoungstownoh.com — and at the land bank office in 20 Federal Place, 20 W. Federal St., Suite M5-A, Youngstown, OH 44503.
The land bank is seeking a part of the $60 million the state is receiving through the federal Hardest Hit Fund. The Treasury Department agreed in August 2013 to take that amount out of the $570 million Ohio was allocated in 2010 to provide money to those losing their homes to foreclosure. About $200 million has been spent for the original purpose.
The Ohio Housing Finance Agency, which oversees the Hardest Hit program for the state, has given the state’s 16 county land banks until Jan. 31 to submit applications for money for demolition. The Mahoning land bank wants applications to be returned to its Youngstown office by Friday.
This first round of funding will provide $50 million to land banks with an announcement expected at the end of February, said Debora Flora, the land bank’s executive director.
The land bank selected “tipping-point neighborhoods” for this program, Flora said.
“Those are neighborhoods that can either move toward being positive or negative depending on removing blight,” she said.
Most of the neighborhoods are in Youngstown including nearly the entire East Side, Crandall Park on the North Side, the Idora Neighborhood on the South Side, Cornersburg, Buckeye/Lansingville on the southeast side and portions of the West Side. Also on the list is most of Campbell, large portions of Struthers, northern Boardman and an eastern part of Austintown.
The goal is to get 50 owners of houses in need of demolition to turn over the structures to the land bank, Flora said.
“The more houses we can identify as in or on its way to being in our inventory, the stronger our application will be,” she said. “We are also looking at the city demolition list to identify other houses for demolition under this program.”
Youngstown is notifying property owners in the designated areas by mail to fill out the applications to donate the structures if they are in need of being demolished, said Mayor John A. McNally.
“We’re taking applications from interested property owners who can’t afford to demolish their homes,” he said. “There’s going to be a pool of money as part of the Hardest Hit program. If you transfer ownership of the property that we believe is demolition-eligible we’ll be able to do things a little quicker.”
The land bank initially received word from the state Jan. 3 about the program, but didn’t have all of the information until recently, Flora said.