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State joins fight against housing blight

EAST LIVERPOOL

EAST LIVERPOOL –The city recently received $235,000 in funding from the State of Ohio for several of its projects.

According to Mayor Greg Bricker, officials were awarded $150,000 to assist them with forwarding a city blight remediation project, which includes acquisition, demolition and rehabilitation of abandoned properties; $60,000 for completion of a downtown vision plan to identify the next areas for revitalization and provide a blueprint for future redevelopment; and $25,000 for the city’s tree commission to plant new trees and examine the city’s streetscape.

Bricker said the city’s housing issues have been his primary focus since coming into office.

“The Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation has been surveying the housing on our streets. A local realtor association secured us a $5,000 grant to help with a neighborhood stabilization study,” he explained.

Some 30 percent of property owners not paying their real estate tax also is a major issue. “We have teamed up with the new Columbiana County prosecutor and treasurer to collect taxes that are many times decades delinquent,” the mayor explained. “That is the core of our issues. We have blight on every block of this city, and we are trying to solve that issue.” Currently the city has more than 7,000 housing units, one thousand which are abandoned.

Also crediting East Liverpool’s partnership with the county land bank, Bricker talked about the Potters’ Progress initiative and how it has been crucial to making this happen up to this point.

Donations have ranged between $10 to $10,000.

“I’m excited to see some of these (structures) get torn down, so we can turn these neighborhood around. For example, there are three abandoned houses on Sophia alone. We want to be able to see homeowners who take pride in their properties move their neighborhood in the right direction,” Bricker added. “I counted 11 abandoned homes alone on Avondale.”

This latest state money is expected in fall.

The mayor also dismissed rumors that the city’s American Rescue Plan will go to fund his proposed trail project, urging council during Monday’s regular meeting to consider allotting a large portion of the ARP funds to tackling the city’s housing issue.

The city received $555,337.74 in its first installment of ARP funds and will receive the same amount next year, according to Auditor Marilyn Bosco.

Bricker added during Monday’s council meeting, “We need to prevent these houses from being purchased by bad landlords at sheriff sale by buying them ourselves.”

To either report a blighted home or acquire a lot in your neighborhood, call the mayor’s office at 330-385-3381 during regular business hours.

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