Community effort pays off: YNDC gets big grant to clean up south side

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Cleaning up neighborhoods known for crime takes teamwork between police, officials, and invested neighbors. In the Valley, that teamwork shone through, winning the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation nearly a million dollars to clean up the south side.

The South Side Revitalization Project has been running on teamwork for years and on Wednesday, it got a big boost. YNDC now has the money to make the dream of safety and security on the south side a reality.

YNDC is getting a grant for $850,000 from the Department of Justice to implement a plan to fight and reduce crime in the area. It took two years to develop, with the help of researchers and the Youngstown Police Department.

“We did the plan, we analyzed a lot of data related to crime — where it was happening, when it was happening, who was committing the crime,” said Neighborhood Planner Tom Hetrick.

Tracy Jordan owns Happy Campers Daycare along South Avenue. Her business is right in the middle of what the grant identifies as a crime hotspot.

“Sirens every day. You hear police sirens, ambulances, sometimes you even hear gunshots,” she said.

Jordan is a part of the South Avenue Business Coalition. Last year, YNDC approached the group about its crime reduction plan and offered to help.

“Business owners got up to $2,000 to put up cameras, lighting, to do some maintenance, signage, things like that,” Hetrick said.

Jordan installed new cameras, lights, and fencing all around her property — and saw a difference immediately.

“It happened faster than we expected. We may have had them maybe two months, at that, before we caught a crook so it was right on time,” she said.

YNDC will use the funding to help secure small businesses and make it safer for neighbors on the south side. The organization’s leaders say this grant is about empowering the community to create change.

“The community’s going to see, as we start to implement this grant that we received, how valuable their input really is for the enforcement and the improvements that we’re going to try and make,” said Youngstown Police Capt. Jason Simon.

YNDC leaders will continue that teamwork in the city, meeting with grant partners and the community within the next few days. From there, it will be time to implement this plan and make it happen.