Youngstown agencies to benefit from Hardest Hit Fund

Ohio will be getting more than $97 million from the U.S. Department of Treasury's Hardest Hit Fund

The Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation receives government grants and funds, like money though the Hardest Hit Fund.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio will be getting more than $97 million from the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund, and Youngstown may get a good chunk of those funds.

The Hardest Hit Fund provides funding for community stabilization programs and demolishing abandoned structures. It was created in 2010 using money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program to deal with the devastating effects of the foreclosure crisis.

Ian Beniston, executive director of the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, said a lot of the money would go to the area land banks for demolishing vacant homes that couldn’t be refurbished.

The organization has staff that surveys the city to determine which houses are vacant and what conditions that they are in.

When a home can be renovated, that’s when YNDC steps in and works to revitalize neighborhoods. The first step is using public records to find out who the house belongs to.

YNDC has purchased a few homes, but many are given to the organization through the land banks, private donors or bank real estate owned (REO) properties. There are nearly 4,000 vacant properties across the city, but YNDC focuses mainly on transitional neighborhoods.

“You really have to look at the whole street, because if we have one house that could be rehabilitated but it’s central to 10 other vacant houses that need to be demolished, then it’s not a good investment,”said YNDC Housing Director Tiffany Socol.

YNDC receives funding from several different sources, including government grants and funds, like money through the Hardest Hit Fund.

“We are a private nonprofit, and so we’re not controlled by the government, but we certainly do receive a lot of funding through government sources, both federal and local,” Socol said.

Through the funding, the organization renovates the homes to sell or rent. The market surrounding the homes determines the sale price and how much is put into renovations.

“Youngstown’s a very affordable place to live, so I think that all of our homes are for sale for a very affordable price, and they’re a great value, because they’re full rehabilitated and move-in ready,” Socol said.

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