Homeless veteran housing in Youngstown has some residents concerned
In Youngstown at the corner of Hillman and West Warren Transitional Housing for up to 14 homeless veterans will be built. This has several residents at this council meeting concerned.
Wednesday, October 18th 2023, 11:31 PM EDT
In Youngstown, at the corner of Hillman and West Warren Transitional Housing for up to 14 homeless veterans will be built.
This has several residents at Wednesday's council meeting concerned, questioning whether their neighborhood already plagued with problems will bring more trouble to their doorsteps and homes.
"Our main concern is there is a daycare within 150 feet of where they are talking about building, as well as a foster home four houses down from the daycare. Not to mention that neighborhood has senior citizens that have lied in their homes for over 60 years," Beverly Lewis said.
They worry homeless veterans will have mental problems, addictions, or may be violent and jeopardize their safety.
Some ask why another property on Market Street or elsewhere wasn't selected, areas that are on the bus line and better suited for the veterans.
"The neighbors don't need the additional feelings of unsafetyness. We are already dealing with prostitutes, drug addicts, and pedophiles who patrol the corner for our children. Our children are grateful when police are able to make their presence known so they can get safely on the bus," Lewis added.
"If you care about veterans as much as you say you do, then why would you put them where there is that much temptation and there is that much negativity going on," Lewis asked.
"Will there be security 24-7, or will they just roam around the neighborhood," Lewis asked.
But Councilman Julius Oliver asks folks to not have preconceived notions about homeless veterans.
"I'm a veteran. At one time I was homeless. I don't have any criminal issues. I don't have any mental issues. Sometimes within the transition of active military coming back into civilian life, you don't pick up as quickly you don't have those jobs available to you and you may not have a place to stay because you've been housed in the military, you've been paid through the military," Councilman Julius Oliver emphasized.
The VA has provided half a million dollars, Mahoning County Commissioners $150,000, and Councilman Julius Oliver is providing $100,000 in America Rescue Plan Act funds for his ward to build this facility.
Oliver adds many folks are happy to know some permanent homes will also be built on the corners where no one has wanted to develop.
21 News asks who is overseeing the programs and receiving the money.
The parent organization is Family Community Services and Veterans Haven is one of 90 programs under that umbrella.
The organization with programs in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan says it provides unique programs solely fitting for the veteran population.
We reached out to the Assistant Director of the Veterans America Division of Family and Community Services Brandi Parker.
She tells us about the first community meeting with Oakhill Neighborhood Association for a presentation to the Community Block Watch on Thursday, October 19th at 6:00 pm at Needles Eye.
Parker said, "There are so many factors where a veteran becomes homeless, some can't make ends meet, some lost a job, they got divorced, are separated, loved ones passed away. Just as as with anyone there are different factors, some have PTSD or a personality disorder. We specifically provide resources for the individuals."
Transitional Housing for Veterans has a permanent housing piece that began in Trumbull County prior to 2018.
They expanded into Youngstown in 2018 with the assistance of Mahoning Commissioner Carol Rimedio Righetti.
They have no security at their current facility in Youngstown which has been operating since 2021 two blocks south of the location where they will be building. And they have partnered with Meridian Health Services for male veterans for over two years now.
"Our programs are extremely successful. We have been providing services since 2005," Parker emphasized.
We have facilities in five counties. Our oldest female transitional housing facility Freedom House has existed since 2005 in Kent.
A 30-bed facility has been located in Akron since 2013.
Veterans Haven groundbreaking will take place November 2023 with the facility opening doors October 2024.