YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – We’ve been sharing different stories on housing in the Valley for the past several weeks. WKBN Community Affairs Director Dee Crawford goes in-depth with one organization looking to help people improve their homes.
Ian Beniston is the executive director of the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation. He said there is a lot going on in the organization with housing opportunities.
“We’ve been engaged in some large-scale home repair efforts, particularly with the City of Youngstown’s support. So right now, we’re doing a citywide roof replacement project. We also have our emergency repair program. So, those are resources that can be accessed by low-income homeowners anywhere in the city,” Beniston said.
Some emergency repairs would be for a furnace, plumbing, a leaking roof, broken front porch steps or something that is critical to the function of the house, Beniston explained.
Anyone wanting to take part in the programs can call 330-480-0423. There are eligibility requirements and income guidelines for the program.
“You can call our office and our housing team would definitely be happy to go over those with you,” Beniston said.
Already, they have replaced over 200 roofs in the City of Youngstown.
“It’s quite a large volume. We do have a lot of interest. So, I would just ask people who do call to be patient because it does take us some time to get you through the intake,” Beniston said.
YNDC also provides house counseling. It’s a free service to anyone in Ohio.
“It’s a one-on-one service that helps people primarily prepare for homeownership, but also get ready to improve their housing situation,” Beniston said.
On the commercial side, YNDC just wrapped up renovation of what was a vacant plaza at the corner of Glenwood Avenue and Canfield Road.
“I think it was built in 1951, so a fairly old building. At one time, it had multiple businesses in it. Once we got our hands on it, it was vacant, and it had fire damage, but it was really at this intersection that has a lot of traffic and is highly visible. We saw it as critical to the long-term revitalization of Glenwood,” Beniston said.
The plaza is now home to Joe’s South Food, Glenwood Fresh Markest, Quick Med Urgent Care, Inspiring Minds after-school program and family services. Beniston said they’ve done other work, property by property, along Glenwood Avenue.
“We were also able to work with another organization to develop a vacant building, and there’s now a coffee shop there called Glenwood Grounds. Then we’ve been incrementally developing a lot of other buildings along Glenwood. So just this past year we added Pie Oh My, which is a little bakery… in what was formerly an old service station. We added the Beyond Expectations Barber College, which is a workforce development program, an actual barber college. You can get a haircut there that’s very affordable starting at $6. So, definitely a pretty cool place and added facility and amenity,” Beniston said.
Beniston said most of the businesses are local and many are Black-owned.
“That was really our intent to bring this neighborhood quality of life, serving commercial services and amenities to Glenwood. I think this is in some ways a model of things we need to be doing across the city,” Benistion said.
YNDC isn’t just concentrating on Glenwood though, they’re working throughout the city and have worked up a reputation of renovations.
“Right now, we’re renovating a vacant home on the East Side that overlooks McKelvy Lake. It’ll be a beautiful house on Liberty Road when we finish it. We’re renovating one on the West Side. We just finished one on Kawartha, which is on the South Side overlooking Mill Creek Park, a really beautiful house that we just listed a couple of days ago for sale,” Beniston said.
YNDC’s home repair efforts are also citywide.
“Probably every block, every street in the city has had some impact. We’ve at this point repaired about 1,300 or 1,400 homes. So it’s a very significant number,” Beniston said.
The group is also working on basic neighborhood cleanup work.
“Right now, we have an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps team serving with us. They just started this past week. So you may see them in your neighborhood soon. They’re going to be cleaning up, boarding up vacant properties that are overgrown, that are not secure. Then in the coming weeks, they’ll be planting trees with us. So that’ll be happening on the South Side, on the East Side, on the North Side,” Beniston said. “Working with our neighborhood groups and partners like the Northeast, homeowners like the Handel’s Neighborhood Association on the South Side. So there’s really a high volume of work happening all over the place.”
There is also behind-the-scenes planning work that is taking place.
“We’re wrapping up our citywide housing conditions survey that’s looking at every residential property in the city. Literally, someone has walked every street and looked at every parcel, so that helps them form how we intervene in our neighborhoods, too,” Beniston said.
Beniston says housing development is also up to the homeowners too, to keep up with their properties so neighborhood property valuation doesn’t diminish. He says YNDC is here to help homeowners as much as it can.