YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — As the city of Youngstown plans to build newer and affordable houses and rehab existing ones, $8 million of American Rescue Plan funds will help the housing crisis in the city.

A proposal was brought up in Youngstown City Council’s Wednesday evening to get funds for housing in the city. The plan, which includes all seven wards, would send $8 million to the Community Development Division.

“There’s a housing stock shortage. This is just another opportunity to get individuals who want to be homeowners to be homeowners,” said Youngstown Mayor Jamael “Tito” Brown.

“We’re looking, not to tell what we’re going to do, but we’re going to ask questions and have community outreach,” said Beverly Hosey, director of Community Development.

The plan would build new houses around the city, taking some of the existing structures and rehabilitating them.

Councilman Julius Oliver said people he’s talked to in his ward support it but have a concern for a lack of a senior facility.

“They said, basically, we don’t want to have to go to the suburbs to age in place, when it’s time. Is the city going to do anything within this plan to build a senior facility that’s adequate?” Oliver said.

Hosey said this is part of their consideration, along with rehabbing homes that seniors already live in.

“It’s very important to all of us, and it’s particular to our team,” Hosey said.

Another issue regards the possibility of renters buying some of these houses.

“Are we going to create a situation in which we leave a bunch more vacant rental homes because we qualified a lot of people. They’re moving up to the new homes and we kind of have a similar situation all over again?” Oliver said.

“That’s something we think about constantly. We research it,” Hosey said.

Third ward Councilwoman Samantha Turner argues ARP funds should have been given to community development sooner.

“We are extremely behind the curb in prioritizing this department, which is closest to the community. It’s like boots on the ground,” Turner said.

Oliver did ask if $8 million was enough, to which Brown responded saying at this point it’s adequate.

“We want to get started putting our information out there. There’s even more planning that needs to happen before we even see bricks or shovels in the ground,” Brown said.

Council unanimously voted to approve it.

Also at the meeting, council approved the following:

  • $100,000 of ARP funds for the first ward to support the home improvement and maintenance
  • $2 million to fix the Covelli Centre roof
  • $65,000 to conduct a feasibility study for a city-run ambulance service