Thursday, December 9, 2010

Improving Our Neighborhoods, One Apartment at a Time

When we met up by the front door to the WYSU studio, Maureen O’Neill commented that she thought that the two of us had a similar philosophy.  I wasn’t quite sure what she meant, though, of course, one of the reasons I’d invited her in is that I think the project she works on – registering and inspecting rental properties in the City of Youngstown – makes a positive difference.  As we talked, though, I think I started to see what she meant.  Maureen believes that Youngstown has potential, despite all its problems.  She believes that improving living conditions in our neighborhoods is an important element in helping us achieve that potential.  She understands that information, such as a database listing rental properties and their owners, can be a useful tool for organizing for change and addressing problems.  And she sees that no one part of the urban puzzle can solve all of the city’s problems; improving the conditions of rental properties is just one part of a larger set of efforts.  You can check out maps related to the program at YSU’s Center for Urban Studies website.

Perhaps most important, Maureen brings to her work an attitude that I admire and wish I could enact more often:  she believes that she can make a difference by talking with those who disagree with what she’s doing.  She brings humor to that task, but she also makes a real effort to understand and address the concerns of property owners and renters. 

As Maureen said in our interview, she needs your help.  If you own rental property, let her know and join the program.  Doing so can help you keep your tenants safe and contribute to the stability of the community, which will help you in the long run.  And Maureen truly is committed to working with you.  If you’re a tenant whose property has not yet been inspected, let her know.  Your property might not be in the database.  And if you know of rental properties that ought to be registered, call her.  You can reach Maureen O’Neill by email or phone, (330) 742-8833. 

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