YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The City of Youngstown has experienced an increase in violence starting in 2020. Just this year, there have been 34 shootings that killed seven people.

For the first time, Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown agreed to sit down with WKBN’s Community Affairs Director Dee Crawford and discuss the underlying issues behind the current trend we’re seeing.

Mayor Brown talked about the challenges of poverty and the declining population.

“As the mayor of the City of Youngstown, I still have to pave the same number of roads, we still have that many yards to cut, we still have to deliver all those services that are out there, which impacts what we do as a city,” he said.

Brown also talked about “Black Monday,” when it was announced that the city’s largest steel mill would be shut down. It’s been nearly 45 years, but he said the effects are still seen today.

Thirty-five percent of the total population is living in poverty, while 55 percent of children under 18 are living in poverty.

“You got single-parent homes now. You know, the two-parent home is not happening as it did in the past, but also, you’re finding individuals who are taking on two jobs to make one job so that they can just have some type of quality of life for the family,” he said.

Brown said it’s important to focus on giving people access to higher education so that they can advance in the workforce.

“Growing up, for me, it was two options. It was either the military or college. And now that pathway is not as simple as it was,” he said. “Right now, the pathway has to be that there are multiple opportunities for our children as well as making sure that by 2024 that everyone has to have some sort of secondary education.”

Dee also discussed options to remove offenders from the streets. You can see that interview on First News at 5 p.m. Wednesday or on WKBN.com.