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Land bank invests in housing for nonprofits

Staff report

YOUNGSTOWN — The Mahoning County Land Bank recently completed transfers of land to three nonprofit organizations that will remodel or build housing to support their residential programs.

The Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley, the Ursuline Ministries of Youngstown and Family & Community Services Inc. were having difficulties finding housing for their residential programs, and the land bank stepped in with affordable solutions for all three organizations.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to work with nonprofits at this capacity,” said Debora Flora, land bank executive director. “And we’re very glad we’re able to do so, by providing space that will fit the needs of their residents and will help support their impactful work and programs.”

She said these three cases illustrate the land bank’s primary strengths: statutory authority to acquire unproductive land and make it available for projects to benefit the community.

The land bank, a county agency established in 2011, can acquire land through foreclosure actions by the county treasurer’s office, usually as a result of delinquent property taxes. It can also receive land through donations by private and public landowners.

The land bank transferred 16 vacant lots to the Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley after demolishing two vacant, abandoned houses on the property. The property surrounding the houses had been vacant for decades before the land bank completed its work to acquire the titles.

The Rescue Mission will use the property for its new building. The nonprofit recently celebrated a groundbreaking and will begin construction on the 47,500 square-foot building.

The land bank transferred a vacant, formerly tax-delinquent, single-family home to the Ursuline Ministries of Youngstown for one of its residential programs on the South Side. The nonprofit is remodeling the home and it will replace the space it outgrew.

Military veteran Joseph Socie and his wife, Rita, donated a house to the land bank earlier this year, and the bank recently finalized a transfer to Family & Community Services, which will use it for its supportive services for veteran families.

“These are all positive examples of different entities working together for the benefit of all involved,” said Flora.

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