YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – People who live on Canfield Road in Youngstown say a group home for the developmentally disabled is causing problems in the neighborhood.
Ian Beniston is the director of the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation. Its headquarters is about half a block from the group home.
He says the men of the home harass and scare some neighbors, including one woman with children.
“Her daughter is actually afraid to go out of the house,” Beniston said. “The gentleman entered her front yard and grabbed the daughter on her arm.”
“He walked up on my porch, grabbed her arm and tried to take the phone out of her hand because he wanted to call his mom,” said Lisa Weidele, the mother of the girl. “But she’s 12, and he’s almost 300 pounds.”
Dana Boana says, for the most part, the men who live in the group home are quiet neighbors. But she also admits there have been some problems, saying one man would run up to drivers and block them in driveways.
“Before the cars even started to go out on the street, so he could get a couple bucks,” Boana said. “He was an older man and he was confused and I was worried for his safety.”
On Tuesday, police were called to Ohio Gas Mart where people reported that a resident of the home was loitering and asking people for money. A police report stated that he had been given warnings by several officers.
Beniston says home residents are also on camera prowling through YNDC property at 2 a.m. He said he has footage of them stealing from his organization and other businesses.
“This isn’t us saying we don’t want group homes and we’re not in favor of group homes,” Beniston said. “That’s not the case.”
There’s also a state complaint against the home for conditions inside.
State records show the men in the home didn’t always have access to drinking water or the telephone — a violation of state law. The state also recommended changes to its meal plan after some residents were going elsewhere to eat and then complaining about missing scheduled meals and snacks.
While the men are supposed to be supervised, Youngstown police arrested one resident blocks away for trespassing and begging.
“I would really like to see them moved to a home that will actually take care of them the way they deserve to be taken care of,” Weidele said.
WKBN on Wednesday spoke on the phone with the woman who operates the home. She said she wasn’t able to meet with WKBN, but maybe next week.
The state says the home is licensed.
“If this is something that is licensed by the state and this is allowed, well then shame on all of us for allowing it, because it’s deplorable,” Beniston said.
“These are the types of impacts that make people move out of the city and out of their neighborhood because they don’t feel safe,” he added.