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Renovating its mission

TNP begins shift from demolition to restoration

Staff photo / R. Michael Semple Ethan Dukes of Warren, an employee of Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership, paints a door frame at a house being renovated along Buena Vista Avenue NE in Warren.

WARREN — The organization that has over the past decade helped demolish hundreds of dilapidated buildings and turned renters into home owners earned an approximately 12 percent increase in revenue in 2021.

In 2022, Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership is shifting its attention and resources toward restoring older homes so more residents will be able to move from renters to buyers.

“The goal is to allow families that traditionally have been outside of the housing market to begin building generational wealth through home ownership,” Matt Martin, executive director of TNP, said.

TNP earned nearly $2.26 million in revenue during 2021, with the majority — $575,193 — coming from various foundations and the second-highest amount — $566,446 — earned from program income, according to its annual report. Its revenue increased last year from more than $1.98 million.

“Most of the increase was based on our programming increasing through projects we worked on,” Martin said.

TNP spent nearly $2.3 million during 2021, with most spent — $1,187,433 — on programs related to the Trumbull County Land Reutilization Committee program, also known as the land bank. It spent $403,356 on Building a Better Warren.

Last year, it assisted in providing funds for 84 emergency home repairs, with the majority, 25, involving making the homes more handicap accessible and 24 roof repairs. The repairs were done on 63 Trumbull County properties, including 35 in Warren and 28 in other communities.

SHIFT IN FOCUS

Often known for its demolition of properties, TNP, through the Trumbull County Land Bank, did 70 in 2021 and oversaw seven private ones. Since it started in 2010, the land bank has facilitated the demolition of an estimated 1,086 properties, renovated 350 homes and sold 1,736 vacant lots, including 260 in 2021 alone.

“When we began, we demolished two houses for every one saved,” Martin said. “Going forward, we plan to reverse that number.”

In a recent presentation to Warren City Council, Martin said the organization is expected to place more of its emphasis on the restoration and renovation of properties rather than demolition.

Martin noted the majority of the homes in the worst condition already have been torn down, allowing the organization to shift its focus to renovation and restoration. However, the organization still plans on working for the Trumbull County Land Bank to remove blight through demolition.

SEEKING ARP FUNDS

Martin is asking the two local governments — Warren and Trumbull County — to provide funding guarantees for a variety of projects, including demolitions and renovations. During a presentation to Warren City Council, Martin outlined a plan in which the city would use up to $3.7 million of its American Rescue Plan funds for the organization’s work.

The city would reimburse TNP as the work is being done.

Martin did not provide a specific amount it would be asking from the county for work done outside of Warren.

In 2021, Warren received $14 million in ARP funds, and it is scheduled to receive another $14 million this year. Trumbull County received $19 million of its total ARP allocation of $38 million and will receive the remaining amount this year.

Neither city nor county officials have determined how they will spend all of the funds over the next two years. The county is looking to hire an attorney to review proposals. City officials are reviewing proposals given to them during a series of community and business meetings held last year.

The city’s administration has allocated nearly $265,000 for the repair of the Packard Music Hall roof, nearly $196,000 on the Courthouse Square fountain and is expected to ask council to commit nearly $1 million for the purchase of five International snowplows and another $1 million for a sidewalk program.

BUILDING A BETTER WARREN

TNP’s Building A Better Warren program trained its six full-time employees to do lead abatement. This will help TNP in both future demolitions and in home renovation projects.

“Instead of hiring contractors, we will be able to do this type of work ourselves, providing these workers opportunities to earn greater incomes,” Martin said.

In addition, these workers provided 2,175 grass cuts on vacant properties around the city, boarded up 68 such properties, took down 31 hazardous trees and assessed 61 properties to determine if they can be rehabilitated or should be demolished.

TNP also is active in community organizing. It worked with Common Cause Ohio and the Trumbull County NAACP to host redistricting webinars, talk about fair redistricting maps and voter registration. It worked with Warren G. Harding High School students in a weeklong career fair program.

It also worked to provide AIDS awareness among youth, established an active transportation plan in Warren and worked to help residents with their Wi-Fi broadband access during the pandemic.

The Warren Farmers Market in Perkins Park had a record year in sales, according to Martin. An average of 196 shoppers attended the Warren Farmers Market in Perkins Park through the summer, which is slightly fewer than the weekly average of 201 shoppers in 2019 before the pandemic.

However, sales increased by 30 percent from 2019 to 2021. The market did not operate in 2020 because of pandemic restrictions.

TNP’s GROW program provided technical support to 20 community gardens throughout Trumbull County. The report states 242 side lots sold through TNP’s incentive program.

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