YNDC, Johnson Propel Plan for Affordable Housing

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The former Carmelite Monastery at 1810 Volney Road has seen many changes throughout the years.

After a renovation that was completed in 2020, the first floor now has office and meeting space, while the upper floor has three apartments.

“It was built originally by a gentleman named Emery McKelvey who was involved in the McKelvey department store in downtown Youngstown,” said Ian Beniston, executive director of the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp., which now owns the building.

Beniston said the property is best known for being a monastery occupied by Carmelite monks from the 1950s through the 2010s.  Father Richard Madden remained at the facility until his passing in 2012.

“The trust that owned and managed the property ultimately left it to us to use for a purpose that was beneficial to the neighborhood,” Beniston said.

The property is one of many that the YNDC has renovated and revitalized to reach its full potential for the neighborhood.

YNDC is now working on renovating the former Foster Theater building on Glenwood Avenue. Beniston said he hopes to have the project done next year.

“We have done many projects like this and many we continue to do,” he said. “It is a key ingredient in returning vibrancy, but also needed services, whether those be housing or commercial services, to the neighborhoods we serve.”

Beniston and the YNDC team have reached out to U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson to discuss the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act.

“This would be a piece of federal legislation that would provide a tax credit to stimulate single family housing development, particularly in places like Youngstown or places throughout Congressman Johnson’s district,” he said.

The act would provide tax credits to fill funding gaps when the work put into fixing a building costs more than what that building can fetch once completed.

“It costs so much to build a house, but the market doesn’t always bear that in return,” he said.

 The particular bill in discussion, the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act, was first introduced as a piece of legislation in early June. Johnson is sponsoring it.

“We see this as a tool to do more things like this,” Beniston said, pointing to the former monastery.

Johnson said he learned about YNDC since he began representing the Youngstown area.

“Creating jobs and creating business opportunities, improving the quality of life, especially here in the eastern flank of our state – that’s an important part of what I do,” he said. “To create jobs, you have to have a place for employers to house their employees.”

Johnson said it is important that federal dollars address critical issues such as offering affordable homes to families.

“I think when you can renovate a home and sell it to a family that might not be able to afford it otherwise, you’re giving people their own opportunity to launch their version of the American dream,” he said.

Pictured at top: Ian Beniston, executive director of the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, shakes hands with congressman Bill Johnson, following discussion of Neighborhood Homes Investment Act.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.