Wednesday, February 18, 2009

MVOC Community, Faith and Legislative Luncheon with Lee Fisher - The Perfect Economic Storm

Yesterday the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative (MVOC) brought the community together to hear Lee Fisher, Congressman Ryan, and Mayor Williams discuss the vacant properties issue in Youngstown. Video of their speeches are below. The Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative is a broad-based community organizing initiative established in March of 2008.

The primary focus of the MVOC is to unite groups throughout the community (Churches, neighborhood groups, parent/teacher associations etc.) to work together to increase the quality of life in urban neighborhoods in the cities of Youngstown and Warren, Ohio. The MVOC seeks to bring change to our community through neighborhood actions and campaigns.

Vacant properties have been an issue repeatedly raised as the MVOC has worked in the neighborhoods. Vacant properties significantly impact our neighborhoods. The MVOC did a citywide vacant property survey in which over 150 community leaders participated. The survey estimates the number of vacant properties in the city of Youngstown at 22,000 of which 4500 have structures. The current approach to addressing the problem is not effective. Vacant properties effect the quality of life here and discourages reinvestment in the city.

My prior posts outline the work of the MVOC as well as the outcome of the meeting they recently had in Columbus with representatives of the governor's office. It was at this meeting that Lee Fisher promised to come to the Mahoning Valley to meet the people and see the problem first hand.

Yesterday, Lee Fisher kept that promise. The meeting was held at the Union Baptist Church. The church was filled to capacity. I heard estimates that upwards of 600+ people attended. Many citizens took the afternoon off work to attend the event as they feel it is imperative that the politicians in Columbus understand that the citizens of this Valley are concerned and want the vacant properties problem solved. Youngstown needs funds to solve this problem and the Governor's office needs to heed our cry or our disappointment will be evident at the polls on election day.


Youngstown said...

Thanks for posting, Deb!


Kid Charlemagne said...


Thanks so much! Youngstown so deserves passionate activists like you! I can't wait to come back to my hometown and see a completely revitalized city!

SLWatson said...

Part of the problem with at least one vacant property is the hostage situation involving the tax lien on it. The house is livable, though battered as it was when we bought it; we lived there seven years, working poor where we often had to choose between bills or foot.

We ended up owing about 200 or so in taxes, and the next thing we knew, the debt was sold and now the bill is through the roof. The plan, of course, was to give the home to our niece as a starter house. We couldn't afford to pay it then, and though we're slightly better off now, the price is still too high when you're trying to raise children in this economy.

There are working poor in that city. People who do work hard and live there because they can't afford to live anywhere else. But instead of trying to work with home owners in paying off property tax, it was decided to make a quick buck selling the debt.

There's a whole lot more that needs addressed than vacant homes. What people you have left, who keep the lights on, are being squeezed right out.