Mayor talks of social services, housing, more in State of City

YOUNGSTOWN — In his annual State of the City, Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown said he wants more of a focus on social services, growing the affordable housing stock and increasing business opportunities.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” Brown said Thursday during his speech at the Youngstown / Warren Regional Chamber’s Good Morning Youngstown event at Stambaugh Auditorium. “Whether it’s two inches or three inches, we’re moving in the right direction.”

The best way to advance is collaboration, he said.

“One person seeking glory doesn’t accomplish much,” Brown said. “Success is the result of people pulling together to reach a common goal. Over the past six years (as mayor), we’ve worked to build those relationships in the city of Youngstown and focus on how do we become a force factor at the local, regional, the state and federal levels.”

Brown said he is seeking improvements in health, particularly mental health.

“As mayor, I want to make sure that families facing suicide, overdose, gun violence, homelessness are receiving the proper services that’s give to them,” he said. “So this year, along with my staff, we’ve wanted to put together a social services navigator, someone who can help people get to where they need to go.”

Affordable housing has been a challenging issue with many companies wanting to build it coming to city officials looking for money that isn’t there, Brown said. There are businesses that want to build a $10 million housing project and are short $8 million, he said.

“If you want to do business in Youngstown as a developer, we will help you but you’ve got to come and put some skin in the game,” Brown said.

He later added: “If you want to do business in Youngstown, you don’t have to pay me, you don’t have to owe me, you don’t have to take me out to dinner or give me a good cigar. If you want to benefit the citizens of Youngstown, if it’s permits or if it’s a zoning change, whatever you need to do business in the city of Youngstown, that’s all I ask.”

Gov. Mike DeWine proposed in his Jan. 31 State of the State address the creation of innovation hubs throughout Ohio through a $150 million investment to encourage more economic growth.

The city and chamber are working to get one in downtown Youngstown.

“I want my children and my children’s children ready for the technology that’s going to be there,” Brown said.

Brown also talked about wanting a centralized police-fire station on the city’s North Side and conducting a study to determine the best way to handle ambulance service.

The police-fire station has met with opposition from some members of city council and the legislature halted plans in February to pay $50,000 for the ambulance study.

Brown said he wants to know if a city-run service is an option or if Youngstown should continue subsidies to a private company — it started that for the first time in January — or possibly a regional government ambulance.

Regarding the latter, Brown said, “It’s something we should think about.”

Brown talked about unmanned speed cameras in school zones that the city is using to issue citations. He specifically mentioned a Vindicator reporter writing numerous articles about the subject.

“In all honesty, our babies need what any other community needs: they need to be safe going and coming from their schools,” Brown said.

He said if you get one or two citations, slow down.

“If you get three tickets, you need to come see me because I need to look at your driver’s license,” he said. “You just disobeyed the law and my babies need your help.”


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