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City Would Help YNDC Rehab Houses with $1.5M - Business Journal


Nearly every house the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. rehabilitates has the same problem, Ian Beniston says: Thieves stripped the plumbing for the copper pipes.

That adds somewhere between $7,000 and $15,000 to the cost of rehabbing the house, making it less attractive to renovate, says the YNDC executive director.

A funding request by Mayor John McNally that will go before City Council Wednesday night aims to address that issue, at least in part. The legislation, if approved by council, would permit the Board of Control to enter into a $1.5 million grant agreement with YNDC.

The funding from the city would allow YNDC to rehabilitate more vacant houses so they could be sold, Beniston said.

“The city has fairly low-market values when it comes to housing, so the market dictates what we’re able to renovate,” he said. If a property can sell for only $59,000 but would cost $59,000 to repair, the house is less attractive to address. Last year YNDC rehabilitated 23 vacant properties, and the organization is looking at another 30 this year.

“This will allow us to renovate vacant homes that we would otherwise not be able to,” Beniston said.

“It’s a way for us to stimulate housing on a citywide basis,” Youngstown Finance Director David Bozanich said.

A third of the $1.5 million would go to YNDC to directly address water and wastewater-related issues in the housing it is rehabbing, including new plumbing and fixtures, Bozanich said.

Another third will be offered as either loans or grants to property owners to allow them to address water and wastewater concerns in their properties, he continued. The final $500,000 would be used to provide “but-for” financing to address concerns for individuals and families looking to borrow money to buy properties, he said.

YNDC has had “great success” with rehabilitating properties, the finance director remarked. “We just want to continue the success they’ve had to date,” he added.

Plumbing in the properties – specifically the copper pipes stripped for their value – has been a “significant issue” for properties YNDC has repaired for resale, Beniston said.

“It’s almost 100% of the time,” he reported. Of the 70 properties rehabbed, he isn’t aware of any without “significant” plumbing problems. Other plumbing-related issues in the housing stock include broken or outdated fixtures, he said.

The city tears down 500 or more vacant houses each year but the city has a “3,000-home problem,” Bozanich said.

“It’s going to have a real positive impact on some of these neighborhoods in need of real investment,” he said. In addition to the direct impact of the investment in the properties, it could inspire other property owners to make needed upgrades, he said.

The city would benefit from having new water and wastewater customers and taxpayers in those properties. “I think we can get an 8%, 9% return on investment based on what we’re doing with these homes,” Bozanich said.

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