YNDC Launches Rehab Efforts for Occupied Homes

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Bradley Young has lived on Miltonia Avenue on the East Side for a decade. The house, however, has been there much longer. With faded, cracking paint on the sides and aging mechanical systems in dire need of replacement, fixing everything that needs repairs is a constant cause of concern. 

“Floors, windows, ceilings,” he says. “All of those things I never would have been able to do myself. It’s just too much.” 

As one of the first 20 homes in Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp.’s home rehabilitation efforts, Young and homeowners like him won’t have to worry any longer. He could never express enough graditude for the repairs being completed by YNDC, he says. 

“I don’t know how I would have been able to afford this without the help of PNC and YNDC,” Young says. “I would encourage anyone to take advantage of the program. Just give them a call, put in an application. They’re here to help.” 

Painting has begun on Young’s home and two windows have been replaced so far. Coming soon are new gutters, a roof, furnace and hot water tank. Among the goals of the program, says YNDC Executive Director Ian Beniston, is to keep residents in the homes and bolster the communities where they live.

“Bradley Young already lives in this house. He wants to remain here,”  says Tiffany Sokol, housing director for YNDC. “Through this program, we’re able to help him do that.” 

Within the next two weeks, work on Young’s home will be completed and work will begin on a home nearby. YNDC’s work schedule on the homes is staggered, Beniston says, and all should be done within six months. 

“Those areas are being targeted because that’s where we have the biggest concentration of homeowners in need,” Beniston says, identifying the 1st, 2nd and 6th Wards as where YNDC sees the biggest need for home repairs. “That’s where we need the resources, so that’s where we’ve chosen the target.” 

Homeowners served by the project will also be provided with access to community services and resources. 

“The American Red Cross is providing smoke detectors, My Path is providing an employment training program, Easterseals is providing their Meals on Wheels to seniors who are eligible and Aspire is providing adult education,” Sokol says.

The owner-occupied house rehab program is supported by PNC Bank, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh and the city of Youngstown. The Bank of Pittsburgh provided a $750,000 grant toward the project and PNC Bank provided grants and loans as well. Renovation projects can work alongside other neighborhood development projects, allowing people to stay in their communities, says Ted Schmidt, regional president of PNC Bank. 

“We’re fortunate to be working with Ian at YNDC and we’re confident that he’s going to get the job done,” Schmidt says.

Since it was founded in 2009, YNDC’s community efforts have focused largely on remediating blight, but the organization has recently stepped into repairing and building homes. Last year, YNDC opened a four-unit apartment building on the South Side it renovated and, two months ago, broke ground to build houses on Helena Avenue. Even with the spree of construction work, building houses isn’t the only tool in YNDC’s shed. 

“It’s not really a shift,” Beniston says. “[On] Pleasant Grove in the Handel’s neighborhood, we had one street that had a number of homes that needed to be torn down. Otherwise, the street was generally intact. We wanted to restore the density on that block, so we decided we were going to build three new homes. On that same street, we renovated three vacant houses.”

Building new housing is a tool to be used strategically, Beniston says. But, the main mantra of the YNDC is “fix it first,” he adds. 

“We have houses that are here,” he says. “Lets fix those first. If there are opportunities that add value to build new homes, we’ll explore those, but our first priority will always remain fix it first.” 

Pictured: Celebrating the launch of YNDC’s program to rehab homes are YNDC’s Tiffany Sokol and Ian Beniston, homeowner Bradley Young, PNC Regional President Ted Schmidt, PNC Community Development Bank relationship manager David Eddy, Mayor Jamael Tito Brown, First Ward Councilman Julius Oliver and Sixth Ward Councilwoman Anita Davis.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.