9 Valley localities seek grant together

Money would be used to stabilize neighborhoods

By David Skolnick


YOUNGSTOWN — Deciding there is strength in numbers, nine communities in Mahoning and Trumbull counties are joining together to apply for competitive federal grant to help stabilize neighborhoods through demolition, housing rehabilitation and property acquisition.

Officials with the nine communities met Thursday in Youngstown City Council chambers to discuss the application process. The grant request, to be written by officials with Youngstown’s Community Development Agency, must be to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by July 17.

The communities are seeking $33.3 million, with $11.6 million for land acquisition and rehabilitation, $7.9 million for demolition, $3.74 million to help eligible homebuyers with financing, $3.64 million to buy property through a land-banking program, $3.4 million to redevelop property, and $3 million for administrative costs.

“Working together makes for a really strong application,” said William D’Avignon, Youngstown’s community development agency director. “We are going to make a difference in these nine cities that have been neglected for so long.”

Michael D. Keys, Warren’s community development director, agrees.

“This is our best chance to be competitive with bigger cities,” he said.

The communities involved in this collaborative effort are: Youngstown, Warren, Niles, Girard, Campbell, Struthers, Lowellville, Newton Falls and McDonald.

There is $1.93 billion in federal funds available for land banking, property acquisition and rehabilitation, homebuyer financing, demolition and property redevelopment.

HUD will decide by the end of September which communities will receive funds through the second phase of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, Keys said.

Of the $33.2 million in requests from the nine communities, Youngstown is seeking more than $11 million, and Warren wants about $10 million.

But officials with the other communities in this cooperative effort say they don’t mind.

“We’re glad to be part of this,” said Struthers Mayor Terry Stocker. “We’re looking at this from a regional approach.”

Girard Mayor James Melfi said Youngstown and Warren have greater needs than the smaller communities.

“To see Youngstown get better only makes our city stronger,” he said. “When they are better, our community is better. We’re glad to be part of it. What is good for Youngstown is good for Girard. We want Youngstown to prosper because that makes our city better.”

During the first phase of federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program, money was allocated to communities through the state. The communities are dealing directly with HUD on this second phase, funded through the federal economic stimulus package, D’Avignon said.



Nine communities will submit a grant proposal to the federal government to help stabilize neighborhoods:

Youngstown Warren Niles Girard Campbell Struthers Lowellville McDonald Newton Falls

Source: Youngstown Community Development Agency