YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The ACTION Housing Task Force is making it clear — from now on, it will hold landlords accountable for problem properties in the City of Youngstown, even if it means naming names.
Task force members made the commitment Tuesday evening before a crowded room of 175 people who came to hear about the problem landlords.
The first landlord they heard about was Mark King.
“Mr. King is the first landlord that our task force identified as a problem landlord,” Frank Elling said.
King owns about 150 houses throughout Youngstown, including some on Volney Road and Republic Avenue.
The task force wants two of 12 vacant properties, which King has agreed to demolish on June 15. He’s already demolished eight houses.
King also owed the city over $600,000.
“In part from pressure from the task force, Mr. King has recently settled with the City of Youngstown for $262,000,” Elling said.
King’s lawyer, Peter Grinstein, said King has agreed to all nine of the task force’s demands. King is also current with the city and working to pay his back property taxes.
The task force also named six other Youngstown landlords it plans on going after. It will demand agreements from each one — the landlords must agree to maintain their properties and pay back all taxes and fees.
“If they fail to respond or refuse to sign, we will follow up with an action,” Daphine Carter-Hawkins said.
The audience was also given a chance to comment. Arkeila Duval-Belton said the information helped.
“Now when I go to a property, I’m going to look for certain things and if this man owns this property now,” said Nancy Carson, who lives in the Crandall Park neighborhood.
She said her problem landlord is from West Virginia.
“Some houses, you can see active drug deals. Some houses have all of their garbage around the back yards.”
“I spent 70 years thinking that when you don’t pay your real estate tax, there was sheriff’s sale. Now I find out that’s not true,” said Hank Zimmerman, who lives in the Brownlee Woods neighborhood.
“I think this Youngstown has to start waking up a little bit, go after these people,” said Joe Susak, who lives in Youngstown. “If I don’t pay my taxes, you’re going to take my house away. If I don’t pay my water bill, you’re going to shut me off. What’s going on around here? This is the problem. Our government, our Youngstown government. It sucks.”