Thursday, November 06, 2008

achieving stability, plus redevelopment

Tonight at 4pm in City Hall downtown, a public meeting was held to solicit citizens' opinions on a request being developed by the city on how to spend $2.7 million in federal funding to combat the foreclosure problem.

part one
first, a side note and some history:

In the Housing and Economic Recovery Act passed in July 2008 by Congress, $258 million was allocated to Ohio to help with the housing crisis. The first round of funding from this Act distributed $116 to the state, and Youngstown got $2.7 million.

This was a welcomed, yet disappointing amount to many folks, as cities with smaller populations and smaller foreclosure rates received more money than Youngstown.

For example, Columbus with a foreclosure rate of 6.9% albeit a larger population, received $22 million.

Canton, with a smaller foreclosure rate of 12.3% and a smaller population than the Yo, received $3.6 million.

But to re-center the discussion - Youngstown's foreclosure rate of 14.7%, the highest of any city in Ohio, received $2.7 million.

More on this imbalance to come.

The issue now at hand is how to spend the $2.7 million.

part two

some maps to observe.

The first is of the houses slated for demolition in the city of Youngstown:

The second is of the 1,044 houses foreclosed by banks in all of 2007 to July 2008:

Some quick stats:
- the median housing value in the city of Youngstown is $40,900
- 54.6% of the mortgage loans from 04-06 in the city were subprime
- 22.6% of mortgages in the state of Ohio in that time were subprime
- the foreclosure rate in Youngstown is 14.7%
- the foreclosure rate in Ohio is 6.2%
- 351 structures were demolished by the city in 2006
- 474 structures were demolished by the city in 2007

part three

Using these maps and this information, the draft plan on how to spend the $2.7 million is now online. From November 6th through November 20th, comments will be accepted at:
NSPComments (at) cityofyoungstownoh (dot) com

These tracts in purple then, using the quidelines of the federal government, have been identified as targeted areas for the $2.7 million:

Interesting to note though by reading the draft plan, how components of the Youngstown 2010 Plan were used to assist these funding decisions. It's also important to recognize this draft plan is only for suggesting how a chuck of funds from the feds is spent for this unique and specific component. Purple does not identify "important" vs. "non-important" sections of the city.

But it is cool to see how planning tools and information can help to make strategic decisions.

part four

finally, a timely opinion piece on a somewhat related topic.

note: I am not trying to draw any conclusions about parts one to three vs. part four. This post is simply a way to aggregate information and 3rd party opinions.

A recent article published by Charles Buki at the Planetizen blog on Oct. 30th titled "The Work of Neighborhood Stabilization" has been getting a lot of attention.

He contends the standard response to community development has been to put resources in (1) communities hurting the most, or (2) spreading a little bit of assistance everywhere.

Buki believes these are the wrong approaches.

The question he states should not be where is the area of greatest need, but which area has the greatest chance of success?

Using that strategy, middle market neighborhoods still with signs of strength and assets that are marketable with minor improvements should be targeted first for assistance. These are the tipping point neighborhoods.

so simply put, what do you think of the Buki approach?

Should we:
target the tippers;
spread the resources;
or invest only where problems are worst?


mike martin said...

target my neighborhood please. i need to increase the value of my home in the yo.


Jim Russell said...

Understanding a city as a living organism is a metaphor with a long and troubled history. If we scale up the analogy to a state, regional or even national level, the prescription is even less palatable.

Should the entire Rust Belt be left to whither? No? What about the least healthy of cities within this region?

I don't think "triage" by itself is an acceptable approach to allocating scarce resources. Different neighborhood situations call for different approaches. I like the idea of rescuing communities right at the tipping point, pushing them in the right direction. But there needs to be a program for the most distressed places to give them some sort of chance to pull themselves up.

Microlending? Some other more radical and experimental, but less resource intensive, approach? These neighborhoods may fail anyway, but I can't imagine living in a world where we just wash our hands of the most troubled nation-states.

J.R. said...

I think the "target the tippers" method is best.

Spreading the available help over a broad area, means that nothing substantial is likely to get done anywhere.

Investing in only the worst areas can work, but requires more resources to show positive results.

Investing in a "tipper" neighborhood provides the biggest "bang for the buck" because less work needs to be done to stabilize it.

But, you probably could have guessed I would feel this way since you know I live in the Garden District. (arguably a "tipper" neighborhood)

Audient said...

Where can I find more detailed versions of those maps?