YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A plan to spend $3 million of American Rescue Plan money replacing roofs in Youngstown passed city council Wednesday evening.
It’s an aggressive plan: Replace 250 roofs between now and the end of next year. Before it passed, there was a lengthy discussion. In the end — the vote was 6 to 1 — with Councilwoman Samantha Turner voting no.
Mike Durkin is in charge of code enforcement and demolitions for the city of Youngstown.
“We’re making the transition to start to save some of the properties that we have,” Durkin said.
At this Wednesday’s city council meeting, Durkin was tasked with answering questions about Youngstown’s roof replacement program.
“The group that has fallen through the cracks are our senior citizens who’ve been in our city, and they make enough money to live but not enough money to replace their roof,” Durkin said.
Durkin said there are 500 roofs that need replaced.
The plan passed calls for $3 million of ARP money to be used, which should replace 250 roofs of owner-occupied houses. There will be an income requirement — but it’s not yet been decided what the number will be, though the plan is to make it high enough so most people can participate.
Councilwoman Turner voted against the roof program. She wondered why some of the money wasn’t being spent on mental health organizations to help people whose houses are a mess.
“We’ve run into hoarding situations, whether it be items or animals,” Turner said. “What I’m hearing is a Band-aid, I’m not hearing a cure — which is why I’m asking for a strategy.”
“I don’t believe this is a Band-aid. I think, if you look out, the blue tarps are Band-aids,” said Councilman Mike Ray. “We have a triage situation here, and we have to put the resources we can to get it under control.”
“It is not ‘just a Band-aid’ to have crap coming down on top of you. They can’t stay in their house if that water’s coming in,” said Councilwoman Anita Davis.
“I’m glad we’re doing what we can to help our residents where they need the help, according to what we can spend,” Councilman Julius Oliver said.
The $3 million for roofs was taken from $8 million in ARP money originally allocated for the demolition of 800 structures. But once the Mahoning County Land Bank secured money to demolish 450 properties, it freed up funds to spend on roof replacements.
About 800 structures are still scheduled to be demolished.