Tag Archives: Phil Kidd

Youngstown and HUD’s Shrinking Cities Lapse

Why can’t Youngstown redevelop its downtrodden neighborhoods the same way Philadelphia has?

Willy Staley asks Youngstown Community Organizer Phil Kidd this question in the latest issue of Next American City.

Phil Kidd, Youngstown advocate. Photo by Sean Posey. http://www.lightstalkers.org/sean-posey

Phil Kidd, Youngstown advocate. Photo by Sean Posey. http://www.lightstalkers.org/sean-posey

“The most straightforward, and obvious problem for cities in decline is the way that the Department of Housing and Urban Development doles out its funds,” Staley writes. “The grants are not competitive; cities must apply, but the size of the grant is determined by a formula.”

The formula is weighted by population, so as Youngstown bleeds population, its HUD money shrinks as well. Meanwhile, the destruction caused by vacancy and abandonment cries out for attention.

“CDBG is our lifeline,” says Kidd, “and we’re experiencing population decline and trying to plan accordingly for that but it requires a lot of planning and land use strategies, demolition…all these things that are not proportional to population.”

Worse, in cash-strapped cities like Youngstown, Community Development Block Grant dollars are often tapped to fill holes in the general fund budget.

The most recent community development money infusion, the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (a program of the economic stimulus package), capped the allowable portion spent on demolitions at 10 percent. This presents another obstacle in a city where vacant houses are driving neighborhood abandonment. Kidd says while local community development officials have been struggling to stabilize one neighborhood, another has been hemorrhaging population at a rate of 435 percent.

As a solution, Youngstown’s Congressman Tim Ryan has been championing the Community Regeneration, Sustainability and Innovation Act, which would make federal grants available to communities with innovative solutions for the problem of widespread vacancy and abandonment.

Read the articles for yourself:

Part one

Part two

-AS

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Filed under Headline, Politics, Real Estate, The Big Urban Photography Project, The Housing Crisis, Urban Planning

Original Documentary: A Dream of Youngstown

Rust Wire is very excited to share this newly released, original documentary by our own contributor, graduate student and photographer Sean Posey.

The past three decades have erased much of the city of Youngstown that
my father and grandfather knew: An area once known as ” the city of
homes” became known for widespread arson; a city once indelibly linked
with steel and manufacturing became known as the grave yard of the
American steel industry. Youngstown, much like Detroit, went from being
a symbol of the American dream to being a worst case example of the
“urban crisis” that has engulfed so many of this country’s inner
cities.

Yet, we should not overlook the fact that much has changed for good in
the Steel Valley. Corruption trials in the late 1990s broke the
decades long grip of organized crime in the area.
The downtown area, once a ghost town, has rebounded. Even the moribund
steel industry has added jobs with the recent expansion announcement
by V&M Star Steel.

This documentary looks at the individual stories and struggles of
Youngstown citizens who still believe in the city despite all that has
transpired. These are people still fighting the good fight in a town
once given up for dead. As we enter 2010, we should not forget the
tribulations of the past, nor the trials of the present; instead, let
us look to a future where both can inform the tough choices that will
have to be made so that future generations may be willing to call
Youngstown home.

-Sean Posey

256px-youngstown2_036

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Filed under Art, Headline, Real Estate