YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) — 17 years ago, new houses started to pop up around Youngstown as part of a program intended to help residents get on their feet.
However, in some neighborhoods, it’s becoming more of an eyesore. Around Youngstown, it’s not uncommon to see old abandoned houses, but in some parts, it’s now the newer homes that remain vacant.
“We really thought this was going to improve the neighborhood and give people chances,” said south side resident Raymond Winfrey.
Winfrey said he’s seen the construction and the eventual demise of some of the Choice Homes.
“But, it seems like for some reason people can’t stay in them. The neighborhood and the community wants to know why,” said Winfrey.
“Yeah it does, its irritating,” added Shawna Johnson, who also lives on the city’s south side.
Choice Homes Director Phil Smith said he empathizes with people.
“It’s very frustrating,” said Smith.
Across the city, 290 Choice Homes were built.
“We have somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 some houses empty now,” said Smith.
He said there is good reason for one of his homes to be boarded up for a long period of time.
“When vandalism hits these houses, they do a lot of damage,” said Smith.
Since state tax credits helped build the homes, the state determines what repairs are needed.
“It takes a lot of money, it takes a lot of time to get them ready,” said Smith.
Through the tax credits, 15 years after a house was built, people renting would be able to try and buy the house as first time homeowners.
“We’re going to make it affordable to these tenants,” said Smith.
That’s why Choice Homes says they are working hand in hand with the state and the city to get these houses ready to be rented or sold.
However, tenants can’t more into the damaged homes until all the proper repairs are made.
Paul Weston has lived in a Choice Home for years. He also lives across the street from a boarded up Choice Home.
“You look over here and its like Vietnam and something needs to be done,” said Weston.
According to Smith, that house like many others will hopefully have new tenants soon.
People will be able to start buying up to 40 of the houses this week. So far there have been 22 people who have applied to buy those homes. Most of the houses that will be bought, are by people who are already renting