Economic Development

TNP Succeeds in ‘Building a Better Warren’

By Matt Martin, executive director of Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership

WARREN, Ohio — The Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership experienced nothing short of a transformational year in 2017. Our long-term vision of creating quality full-time jobs through neighborhood blight remediation finally came to fruition as our Building a Better Warren jobs program celebrated its first full year.

This program’s team consists of three full-time employees (TNP’s total staff is 14), who work year-round and receive health benefits. Creating much-needed jobs while revitalizing neighborhoods is one of our proudest accomplishments, and we expect to double the size of the team in 2018. Chemical Bank supports the program with a $10,000 donation to purchase tools and supplies.

The work of blight remediation is multi-pronged. It includes demolishing structures that are too far gone. Working with the Trumbull County Land Bank, we tore down almost 150 houses in 2017. But first our team deconstructs the properties so TNP can resell the salvaged materials, saving them from the landfill and instead putting them to good use.

After demolition, we often install fences and gardens, plant trees, put up basketball hoops and perform other resident-driven projects. Last year, we sold 130 of these lots to next-door neighbors for $200 apiece and gave 40 $250 Lowe’s gift cards to buyers in low- and moderate-income tracts so they could improve them.

More important, we saved over 50 houses, creating home ownership in place of vacancy and helping to turn abandoned houses into homes. While we rehab many properties ourselves, our high-volume method of sale is the “Deed-In-Escrow” program. This allows owner-occupants to buy vacant houses at a steep discount, provided they fully renovate the property on a pre-approved timeline. In 2017, we sold 54 houses, leveraging more than $1.2 million in renovation investment.

This was possible because of our partnership with and management of the Trumbull County Land Bank. The vision and commitment of Trumbull County Treasurer and Land Bank Board President Sam Lamancusa has been the driver of this success since the program was instituted in 2011.

We are also working to mitigate the impact of food deserts through urban agriculture, management of an expanded farmers market and the development of new incentives for both consumers and producers.

Thanks to the Trumbull Memorial Health Foundation and Dominion Charitable Foundation, we offered “Double Your Dollars” to low-income customers and free rides to and from the farmers market for all residents.

Near the end of 2017, we completed our “Warren Community Food Community Strategic Plan” and took on new partners such as the Trumbull NAACP in an effort to increase food access and support a robust and equitable local food economy.

We partnered with the Trumbull Metropolitan Housing Authority, Second Baptist Church and others to install a playground at Highland Terrace that was funded by the William Swanston Charitable Fund and the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley.

We engaged the Fine Arts Council of Trumbull County and the local arts community to commission multiple public art installations and we supported dozens of land-use projects and volunteer efforts, matching the needs of our community with the spirit of those most committed to it.

And we partnered with the outstanding grassroots nonprofit Team Sanders Inc. and donated a house to its “Home for the Holidays” program. Thanks to a $5,000 gift from PNC Bank, TSI renovated the house and awarded it to a deserving family.

There are many more projects we have the privilege to facilitate, thanks to residents, partners and funders. Everything TNP accomplishes is possible thanks to the unwavering commitment of The Raymond John Wean Foundation. We are grateful for its benevolence and support of our efforts – and our community – at every turn.

Editor’s Note: This story was published in The Business Journal’s Growth Report 2018. The 144-page edition features growth reports from more than 200 local businesses and organizations. It was published this week. If you are not a subscriber, CLICK HERE to purchase a copy or call Eileen Lovell at 330 744 5023 Ext. 1008.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.