City to Spend $8M in ARP Funds for Housing - The Vindicator

City council agreed to use $8 million of its American Rescue Plan funds to develop a plan to build new houses and rehabilitate existing structures. Council voted 7-0 Wednesday in support of the funding. Two members — Julius Oliver, D-1st Ward, and Samantha Turner, D-3rd Ward — said they want the city to spend more ARP money on this proposal. Beverly Hosey, the city’s community development agency director, said work will be done to determine what type of affordable housing will be developed and where it would be built.

The strategy is based upon development-ready parcels and land owned by the city of Youngstown, the city land bank, the Mahoning County Land Bank and the Youngstown City School District, Hosey said. Hosey said studies and community outreach will be done to determine what percentage would be new housing and what would be improvements to the city’s existing housing stock. “We’ll do an evaluation of the entire city,” she said. “We’ll talk with neighborhood associations and council people to see what will be done and see what type of land is available.”

Hosey said she didn’t know how long the process would take or how many houses would be built and improved. “We’ll develop a strategic plan,” she said. Under federal guidelines, ARP money must be fully expended by the end of 2026. Hosey said the effort will be finished by the federal deadline. The $8 million allocation is nearly 10% of the $82,775,370 Youngstown received in ARP funding.

Turner criticized the time it took to get the proposal in front of council as the city received half of the ARP funding in May 2021 and the rest a year later. She suggested $15 million to $20 million, saying the proposal is “great, but we are extremely behind the curve in prioritizing this.” Oliver said $8 million is a good start. The work will be handled through the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. and Habitat for Humanity of Mahoning Valley, Oliver said.

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