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State Rep. Lepore-Hagan Urged Support of HB 368 to Close Loop Holes in Land Contract Regulations - The Vindicator

The Alliance for Congregational Transformation Influencing Our Neighborhoods is demanding city officials and other community leaders take action to bring full-service grocery stores to the city and enact legislation to protect residents from predatory land contracts.

Speakers at ACTION’s annual public meeting Sunday at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Youngstown, titled “Continued Conversations on Racism,” called on whichever Youngstown mayoral candidate is elected to “within two months” present a plan to bring grocery stores to areas of the city that are designated “food deserts” because their residents live a mile or more from a full-service grocery store. Minister Ted Brown said about 17,500 of Youngstown’s some 65,000 residents live in food deserts, which he said is a product of structural racism. “Big-box stores won’t build in the inner city because of ‘white flight’ to the suburbs, leaving blacks and other people without the means to move,” said the Rev. Mr. Brown. The definition of structural racism is policies and practices put into place by institutions, people, businesses and others that create racial inequality, he said. Systems and practices still exist that place people who live in the inner city at a disadvantage, and it is purposely done, he said. “We are trying to create equity for all,” Mr. Brown said. Also on the agenda Sunday was a call to action to close the loopholes in “exploitative rent-to-own home land contracts.” Among the loopholes are lack of property appraisals and high interest rates and buyers are not required to make repairs, said Ian Beniston of the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. A Youngstown resident told his personal story about involvement in a bad land contract. In 2008, he and his wife decided to buy a house. They were not able to finance it through regular banks and instead went the land-contract path to homeownership. The couple made a “substantial” down payment and their monthly payments of $1,500 a month. However, in 2011, after never missing a payment, they found an eviction notice on his door. He learned that the owner had never made a mortgage payment on the home; in fact, the home was in foreclosure the day the owner sold it to him. To read the full story from The Vindicator, click here.