Panel brainstorms options to Youngstown’s issues | Information, Sports activities, Jobs

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YOUNGSTOWN – Core challenges that continue to affect many Mahoning Valley residents can be mitigated or overcome as overall communication improves, say several religious leaders in the area.

“Elected officials too often fail to communicate with the community and should operate on the grassroots more often,” said Rose Carter, executive director of the Congregational Alliance for Transformation, which influences our Neighborhood Organization (ACTION).

Carter was among the panelists participating in the State of the Valley online discussion Thursday night, broadcast on Facebook Live’s Spanning the Need page.

Hosted by Anthony V. Spano, a longtime philanthropist who founded the Hope Foundation of the Mahoning Valley.

Other panel members who discussed creating local jobs with decent wages, dealing with gun violence, addressing quality of life issues and fighting poverty included M. Mike McNair, social worker, advisor and editor of the Buckeye Review; Vicki Vicars, minister of pastoral care for St. Patrick Catholic Church in Youngstown and local activist; and the Rev. Richard Kidd, pastor of the Bethel Lutheran Church in Boardman.

Various initiatives and best practices to address such challenges were also discussed.

Dealing with the city’s high poverty rate means more than just handouts for the needy or a patchwork of low-wage jobs that they are barely or unable to make a decent living from. City guides could top up some of the roughly $ 88 million Youngstown received to ensure more workers can make at least $ 15 an hour, McNair said.

The city may have the cheapest housing stock in the country, but it maintains one of the highest poverty rates in the country, McNair noted, adding that debunking certain myths about poor people as blaming them for their plight is also important.

“We have to show up and always help the whole person – physically, mentally and emotionally,” he continued, adding, “I think the # 1 crime prevention tool is a good job.”

A lack of communication also gave some city guides and others the false hope that the Chill-Can project would create additional jobs, only to see nothing come off as the East Side location remains inactive, Carter pointed out .

Late last month, Mayor Jamael Tito Brown and Legal Director Jeff Limbian said a letter had been sent to Mitchell Joseph, the chief executive officer of Irvine, MJ Joseph Development Corp. based in California, who owns the East Side property. The correspondence requested Joseph to erect a number of buildings on the site and to hire about 150 workers or face a lawsuit from the city within two months.

Another lingering problem has been predatory landlords who live outside the Mahoning Valley and do little or nothing to maintain their properties, Carter continued.

Still, the problem persists at Boardman, too, Kidd said, adding that he had received many calls from people in need of financial aid during the pandemic, some of whom received funding from the federal paycheck protection program.

Vicars praised the $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, noting that Youngstown had received more than $ 88 million in funds.

“It’s a lifesaver. We would have a second pandemic and a lot of people would be on the streets, “she said.

The vicars also pointed to recent achievements in the valley, including support from the Professional Development Center, which offers curricula to develop the skills of potential employees that many employers need.

A holistic approach is also important to uplift people. That includes extra hope, better professional training, better transportation and easier access to quality health care, she said.

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