YNDC Gets $25K Donation, Readies First Home Builds

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. received a $25,000 infusion for an existing program that helps get individuals into houses, as it prepares to enter into a new endeavor later this week.

Home Savings Bank donated the funds Monday to YNDC’s Community Financial Empowerment Initiative. Since 2014, the program has provided free, on-on-one counseling to Mahoning County residents to help them improve their credit and financial situation, said Tiffany Sokol, YNDC housing director. The objective is for these individuals to eventually become homeowners or improve their rental situation, she said. 

“We pull their credit reports and we go through those credit reports with them line by line to help them address any issues that they have that are barriers to home ownership for them,” Sokol said. YNDC counselors also work with clients on a personal and family budget to help them achieve their financial goals.

Many people “just don’t know where to turn,” said Frank Hierro, Mahoning Valley regional president for Home Savings. Financial planning, budgeting and responsibility of home ownership often aren’t part of the curriculum in high school or even college, so many individuals don’t know the challenges that exist to home ownership, he said.

“The results have been excellent,” Hierro said. “We’re very supportive of what YNDC’s doing to promote housing in the city.”

Last year, YNDC served more than 500 clients in the program, about 180 of whom became homeowners, said Ian Beniston, YNDC’s executive director. YNDC’s goal is to increase home ownership and the organization finds that one-on-one counseling is one of the most effective ways to achieve that, he said.

“It’s one of our most important programs,” Beniston said. “It’s something that has significant benefit to individual neighborhoods as well as our city and region as a whole.”

On Thursday, YNDC will break ground on construction of three houses on Helena Avenue in the Handel’s Neighborhood District. The houses will be built on properties previously occupied by blighted structures the Mahoning County Land Bank demolished. Greenheart Companies will build the houses.

This will be the first time YNDC has been involved with new construction, though it has rehabilitated 121 units of vacant housing and repaired 298 owner-occupied homes, Beniston said. Last year, YNDC received a $750,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh for the project.

“This is somewhat of a unique circumstance,” Beniston said. “We’re still focused on fixing what’s there first, which is what we’ve done on Helena. In this particular circumstance, we have a neighborhood that generally still has its density and fabric intact.”      

Construction is slated for completion by November, he said. After that, these houses will be appraised and sold to owner-occupants. “These are homes that will add value to the street,” he said. 

Pictured: Front row – Leah Ifft, housing program assistant, Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp; Tammi Neuscheler, housing client manager, YNDC; Frank Hierro, Mahoning Valley regional president, Home Savings Bank. Back row – Ian Beniston, executive director, YNDC; Tiffany Sokol, housing director, YNDC; Trish Gelsinomo, assistant vice president and Main Office branch manager, Home Savings; Matt Strang, compliance officer, Home Savings.

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