YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Thursday evening, Youngstown Mayor Jamael “Tito” Brown delivered his second “State of the City” address, touching on virtually every issue facing the city.
The community and its leaders gathered at the DeYor Performing Arts Center downtown to discuss not just the ills within the city, but also the ways to move forward.
“Unemployment, gun violence, infant mortality, food insecurity, aging infrastructure are just a few of the ills that have hindered our growth and progress,” Brown said.
Brown talked about what he called ‘the pain of growth,’ referencing the road construction downtown, as well as the triumphs.
“In 2024, we will have [the Covelli Centre] paid off in full, and we won’t owe anything on it,” Brown said.
The mayor alluded to demolitions as well. Since 2016, 2,090 structures have been torn down, with 680 still remaining. The city has received a $6.8 million grant to take of 569 of the structures needing to be demolished.
“Demolition helps us get ready for development,” Brown said.
When it comes to the houses left, the city plans to use funds from the American Rescue Plan for their demolitions.
“We recently invested $8 million in [ARP] dollars to ensure that we have quality housing, affordable quality housing for our residents,” Brown said.
To demonstrate the technology being used to fight crime in the police department, the new drone unit gave a demonstration.
Brown also announced that Lori Shells-Simmons will be Youngstown’s new law director — replacing Jeff Limbian, who resigned earlier in the week. Shells-Simmons was previously a lawyer with the Mahoning County Juvenile Court.
“I declare that the state of the city is strong, and you can no longer sit on the sideline and complain. You must get in the game,” Brown said.
Brown also talked about developers and “sharks,” who come into Youngstown with ideas that never come to fruition. The Mayor said Youngstown is beyond that, and that the people deserve better.