ACTION wants landlords to pay, clean up

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Six landlords who collectively owe the city more than $140,000 in taxes declined to appear at a meeting of the Alliance for Congregational Transformation Influencing Our Neighborhoods to sign a community agreement pledging to maintain their properties.

ACTION also wants the six to pay their back taxes and respond to tenants’ maintenance requests in a timely manner.

More than 120 community members attended the Tuesday ACTION meeting at Martin Luther Lutheran Church on the South Side.

The landlords in question — Carmen Neapolitan of San Francisco LLC, Michael Robidoux, Jared Shadetree of Shadetree Holdings, Cornell Kennedy and Damon Irby of Cardinal Renovations Group, Dane Armstrong of Armstrong Properties and Alexander Szkaradek of Vision Property Management — were featured in a slide-show presentation that played on repeat during the meeting.

During the presentation, dilapidated properties owned by the landlords were juxtaposed with images of their personal homes — often outside of the city in expensive suburbs.

Katrina Love, a member of ACTION, announced a “day of action” in response to the landlords’ absence at the meeting.

On July 13, ACTION members plan to take a bus trip to each of the local landlords’ homes to hand-deliver the community agreement to them. If the landlords still refuse to work with the group, members said they would take further action.

In addition to the delivery, Love said the group would also pressure the city council to enforce existing city code and the Mahoning County treasurer to act on collecting the taxes owed by the landlords.

Mary Danus and Bonnie Jacobs, who live in neighborhoods with properties owned by some of the landlords targeted by ACTION, shared their experiences.

Jacobs recalled being threatened by tenants of a home she said was owned by Neapolitan.

“Why does Mr. Neapolitan, who lives in a mansion in Poland, feel he can operate a house and rent to people like that next to me?” she asked. “Why doesn’t he background check?”

Danus pointed out that Shadetree owes more than $73,000 in delinquent tax debt to the city, and asked why, despite his status, he is allowed to continue to purchase properties for rent.

During a public comment section, attendees questioned why city code enforcement officials and administration members from the Youngstown City School District — which would benefit from the taxes in the city being repaid in full — were not present at the meeting, and shared stories of their own struggles with negligent landlords.

The first landlord ACTION targeted, Mark King, owed the city $647,821 in back taxes, but settled with the city to pay back $262,000 via a payment plan after signing a community agreement with ACTION.

Daphine Carter Hawkins, a member of ACTION, said King has registered all of his unregistered rental and vacant properties with the city, demolished 12 of his most blighted properties and tended to code enforcement violations at four others.

“It wouldn’t have been possible without us standing up and speaking out,” Hawkins said.

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