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North side residents speak out against proposed 41 bed treatment facility

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - A $6.8 million dollar project to help meet the needs of people with substance abuse and mental health problems has been proposed for Youngstown's north side.

But residents are not rolling out the welcome mat.

One of those residents, Darryl Harven, pointed out that there is a group home right across the street from the site developers are trying to build on. Harven said, "Take it into your neighborhood, where you live. We don't want it on the north side."

Not in my community was the resounding echo at a public hearing held on Tuesday. What neighbors are objecting to is a 41 unit facility that would be used to provide apartments for clients with substance abuse problems being treated through Meridian Services, along with Compass Family Services, which provides services for the mentally ill, and Crisis Help Hotline.

Ted Jones, a consultant for the project, says the project will bring in roughly $5.3 million dollars into the community in wages and salaries for workers. Plus, he added, there is a ripple effect of about $1.9 million that workers will spend in the community.

But Don Crane, representing the Western Reserve Building Trades, told developers more than 5,000 construction workers were shut out of Choice Homes and The Hope Six Project. Crane said, "The workforce was imported from other areas, which meant those paychecks were taken back to their homes and spent in other areas." Crane says the building trades help support social programs each hour they work.

Others had security questions, asking if criminals would be introduced into their neighborhoods.

Developers told them there will be programs and security on site, working will be a priority and clients will have a contract like a tenant, so if they act up, they will be asked to leave. But neighbors are not convinced their safety won't be put in jeopardy.

Developers say the site is in an appropriate location since it is walking distance to treatment facilities, Youngstown State University and several churches.

One of the consultants emphasized that he himself has recovered from alcohol addiction and that there are successes stories if people have a long term treatment plan. He says people keep insisting that they put these programs in areas isolated from anyone and adds then they might as well be placed in leper colonies.

Ted Jones revealed he overcame addiction, and added that there are other success stories as long as people have help in an extended treatment plan. Jones said, "The folks who have problems are the same as everyone here." He added, "There but for the grace of God go any of us."

More meetings will be held to address concerns of residents who fear this is already a done deal.

Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative has offered to facilitate more meetings to address residents' concerns. Most want a grocery store there. Developers say with more people it will be easier to convince a business to open a store near that site.

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