Economic Development

Sheet & Tube Houses Eyed for Veterans Housing

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CAMPBELL, Ohio – A nonprofit organization is exploring converting a complex of row houses once the homes of workers of the Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. into housing for homeless veterans.

Tim Sokoloff of the Iron Soup Historical Preservation Co. said that renovating the units would help restore a blighted neighborhood while repurposing the houses in a worthy cause.

“We have a blighted area with historical status,” Sokoloff says. “Now, here’s an end-user, and we could end homelessness for veterans.”

Dr. Robert Marcus, a local representative of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and Susan Skrzynski of the Veterans Service Commission, recently visited the site and were open to the opportunity, according to Sokoloff. “They loved it,” he says. “They like the idea that it’s a community.”

Iron Soup is a nonprofit organization that has wanted to rehabilitate the housing complex of 193 units for years. About 130 are vacant. Iron Soup owns 29 units.

The all-concrete former company houses are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and on the Endangered Historical Sites of Ohio, Sokoloff says. Sheet & Tube built the homes between 1918 and 1920 to provide housing for workers at its Campbell Works.

A press event is scheduled for 10:30 today at the site to announce the initiative. Youngstown Mayor John McNally, who has joined the national Mayors’ Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, is expected to be on hand for the event.

“The primary goal is to save this site,” Sokoloff says.

That’s become increasingly difficult since many of the units are vacant and plagued with back taxes and unpaid water bills, he concedes. These properties need to be cleared through the Mahoning County Land Bank for them to be converted at a reasonable price.

Another hurdle is bringing all of the stakeholders together to create a redevelopment plan and secure the proper funding, grants, and capital investment necessary to advance the project, Sokoloff says.

“We need to get all the players to the table to make it happen,” he says.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.