Commissioners to send $650K to land bank

Money to help with demolitions outside of Youngstown

YOUNGSTOWN — The Mahoning County commissioners have agreed to give $650,000 to the Mahoning County Land Bank to carry out demolitions of about 320 vacant, abandoned homes in Campbell and other communities outside of Youngstown.

“Outside of Youngstown, local governments have reported to us about 320 addresses, houses that are vacant, abandoned, more than likely significantly tax delinquent, and they are in bad repair that it’s the recommendation of the local governments that they be torn down,” said Debora Flora, executive director of the Mahoning County Land Bank.

Of the 320, 178 are in Campbell, Flora said.

The commissioners have not appropriated the money yet, but they will be doing so in the coming months, County Administrator Audrey Tillis said. The money will come from American Recovery Plan funds, Tillis said.

First, the Land Bank will apply for about $2 million of demolition funds from the Ohio Department of Development, Flora said. The $650,000 is the matching money that must be used as part of the funding for the demolitions.

The land bank is hoping to get $3 from the state for every $1 in matching money it can generate, Flora said. The funding was part of the last state budget approved during the summer.

Flora said overall, the land bank is hoping to secure about $5 million for residential demolitions in the county and about $12 million in Youngstown.

Another $500,000 in land bank funds obtained earlier without the need for matching funds is also available to apply to the county project, she said. Demolitions Campbell and Struthers carried out on their own in the past two years can also be used as matching funds, Flora said.

As for Youngstown, the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation determined over the summer that about 760 vacant and abandoned homes in Youngstown should be demolished, but it has some additional vacant and abandoned homes that can still be repaired, Flora said.

“So we could actually see the finish line for mass residential demolition in the city of Youngstown,” she said. “We could actually cross that line in the next couple of years if we get the (Ohio Department of Development) money to help us with that,” she said.

“And considering that Youngstown had the worst record in the nation for vacant, abandoned, blighted housing per capital about 12 years ago — to have that slate wiped clean a few years from now, I think that says a lot about the city and the county in general. What a wonderful story we are going to be able to tell when that takes place,” she said.

Flora also said the Ohio Department of Development also is making money available for cleanup of brownfields. The land bank and a host of other local economic development groups are talking about how to address brownfield sites that “have needed to be addressed for some time.”


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