Sen. Portman tours blighted neighborhoods

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Federal lawmakers are working together across party lines to help communities get their hands on more money that are struggling to tear down blighted properties.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Terrace Park, on Thursday was in Warren to tout his Neighborhood Safety Act, which was recently introduced. Portman toured Washington Street and an adjacent street on the city’s Northeast side where there are several vacant properties next to each other.

The Neighborhood Safety Act, if passed, would direct money from the federal government to cities such as Warren to remove abandoned homes.

“This is important because these abandoned structures tend to attract a lot of crime. They are an eyesore, and they drag down the values in the neighborhood,” said Portman. “This house behind us here for instance cannot be restored. It’s not worth a private sector developer to restore it.”

A companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year by U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, and two other congressmen. Portman is hoping to pass the legislation by the end of the year.

“I think the key is to do it so you show impact and that is what we are trying to work on,” said Warren Mayor Doug Franklin. “The houses we can take down in this neighborhood actually stabilizes the property values. It helps with the crime issue. It’s a win win for everyone.”

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