Youngstown, YNDC must grapple with aging population

The Youngstown Development Corp. continues to receive feedback from residents at its neighborhood meetings. One issue the city and the YNDC must come to grips with is in an aging population. Chris Davidson brings us the story.

Dan Van Dussen, who heads the gerontology program at Youngstown State University, says what is happening in the city is called by expert a NORC, a naturally occurring retirement community. Chris Davidson/TheNewsOutlet.org

Dan Van Dussen, who heads the gerontology program at Youngstown State University, says what is happening in the city is called by expert a NORC, a naturally occurring retirement community. Chris Davidson/TheNewsOutlet.org

Nineteen-year-old Nick Chretien hopes the city can offer him some incentives to buy a house.

CHRETIAN: If they can help you out, it’s a good thing if they can help you out.

The YSU student likes the West side/Cornersburg area.

CHRETIAN: The West side has a nice historic sense to it. It’s located in close proximity to Mill Creek Park.

At his young age, he’ll find many of his neighbors are older than 65. About 27 percent to be exact – if he chooses to live in Cornersburg.

And that’s a concern to Cornersburg/West side resident Marcia Haire- Ellis,

Marcia Haire-Ellis, who lives on the West side, is concerned the city won’t market her area to lure younger residents to stabilize the area. Chris Davidson/TheNewsOutlet.org

Marcia Haire-Ellis, who lives on the West side, is concerned the city won’t market her area to lure younger residents to stabilize the area. Chris Davidson/TheNewsOutlet.org

HAIRE-ELLIS: Neighbors on both sides of me have passed on

She’s worried her neighborhood won’t remain stable if young people don’t move in.

HAIRE-ELLIS: There was no thought to how do we market the neighborhood so that we can get people in to buy those homes and not leave them vacant.

She hopes the city and the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. will address her concerns.

HAIRE-ELLIS: We want to make sure that we look at it as ‘How we going to transition these neighborhoods?’

In Fosterville and some sections of the North side, 29 percent of the residents are older than 65. That compares to a statewide rate of 14 percent and a U.S. rate of 13 percent.

YSU journalism professor Dave Davis specializes in gathering census and demographic data.

DAVIS: Those numbers are off the charts. When you have a quarter to a third of the people are 65 years old or older, and some may be much older than that, they’ll be in their 70s, their 80s possibly their 90s – That’s a huge thing.

aging_pop_graph_draft2-web

Davis says during 2010-2012, Youngstown lost a higher percentage of residents than any other city in the U.S. with a population of 50,000 or more. That’s resulted in an older city.

DAVIS: This stark contrast between young and old, Mahoning County and Youngstown being quite old really has really increased and become quite pronounced.

YSU sociology professor Dan Van Dussen says gerontologists use an acronym to describe what’s happening in Youngstown.

VAN DUSSEN: One of the terms that we often use is ‘NORC’ – which is a naturally occurring retirement community.

He says cities with older populations should provide services so seniors can stay as independent as possible.

VAN DUSSEN: You wanna make it so that neighborhood allows people to stay in place, to age in place

And it’s not just the older citizens who are concerned about independence. Here’s Nick Chretian again.

CHRETIAN: As a young person you have to become more independent and you have to take all options into account.

Van Dussen says the YNDC is doing the right thing.

VAN DUSSEN: Talking about these issues, looking at these issues is the most important thing that you can do because then you have multiple people thinking about them, and that’s where the best solutions come from.

The YNDC holds its final meeting the first week of April, then after studying the information, the YNDC will release its revitalization proposals for targeted neighborhoods in stages.

For TheNewsOutlet.org, I’m Chris Davidson.

TheNewsOutlet.org is a collaborative effort among the Youngstown State University journalism program, The University of Akron, Cuyahoga Community College and professional media outlets including, WYSU-FM Radio and The Vindicator (Youngstown), The Beacon Journal and Rubber City Radio (Akron).

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