#childsafety | Your Morning Matters: So far, dream house is just a dream

Reporter Ellen Wagner and photojournalist Bill Lewis sat down with the three Democratic Party candidates for Youngstown mayor in recent days.

Good morning and welcome to your Morning Matters — with reporter Justin Dennis.

It’s Friday, April 23, 2021, and for the past several weeks, I’ve been strategizing against an unseen enemy that always seems to be one step ahead; that’s always raising the stakes and moving the goalposts. “Victory” seems, at once, within my grasp and just barely out of reach. I feel like I’m gonna be doing this dance forever — offering up my best only to find out my best isn’t good enough.

Of course, I’m talking about the nigh-Sisyphean task of trying to buy a home in this current housing market. Wait, what did you think I was talking about?

Mrs. Dennis and I this year are undergoing that ancient, domestic rite of passage — carving out our corner of the American Dream, preferably with a fence for the dog and at least one other half-bathroom. But beyond the daydreamy listings — with their original hardwood flooring, granite countertops and recently set kitchen backsplash — and the characteristic charm of the Valley’s historic housing stock awaits a cutthroat game of musical chairs set to a maddening glissando.

Have you been spending more time on Zillow lately? Yeah, you and everyone else, apparently.

We had our sights set on a revamped ranch on a quiet cul-de-sac, but were trounced when the winning bidders plunked down cash. Then we were “significantly” outbid for a 90s-built ranch in walking distance to schools, according to our agent.

Really, it’s more like a Game of (musical) Thrones, where you win or you rent. Despite the economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the housing market had a stunning 2020, spurred by record-low mortgage rates and Americans’ realization that they’re likely going to be spending much more time at the homestead. With more first-time buyers — like my wife and I — coming out of the woodwork, yet too few available homes to go around, it’s a seller’s market for sure. If trends continue, one study forecasts home ownership will drop among millennials, compared with their boomer parents and grandparents.

“Just build your own home,” you say? Whoa, why didn’t I think of that? Oh that’s right: My humble bankroll — to say nothing about the current squeeze on building materials. One of the myriad roadblocks thrown up against Tracy Symons’ plans for a Canfield brunch spot was the “astronomical” cost of building materials and “impossible” work-scheduling, she told me earlier this month, for our story on the re-emergence of local restaurants.

There’s just “outrageous house demand right now,” Canfield Township’s zoning inspector Traci DeCapua said last week.

By this point in any other year, she might have permitted six new homes in the township. But as of last week, that was up to 11, and two others were on deck, she said. The township permits, on average, 30 each year, DeCapua said.

Got any tips or tricks for a first-time home buyer? Have you also been struggling to buy a home? Reach out to me at justin@mahoningmatters.com. Or share your favorite Zillow bookmarks in the comments below. Maybe I’ll see you at an open house. Please wear a mask!

Here’s what else you need to know about the Mahoning Valley today:

As part of our mission to provide voters with the information they need on key races, Mahoning Matters reporter Ellen Wagner and renowned Valley photojournalist Bill Lewis sat down with the three Democratic Party candidates for Youngstown mayor in recent days. 

Today, we are publishing profiles that Ellen wrote, along with Bill’s videos capturing the candidates’ messages to voters who will decide May 4 who will continue on to the general election in November. 

While we’ve uploaded all of the information to our 2021 Voter Guide, you can also click here to learn more about incumbent Mayor Jamael Tito Brown, 1st Ward Councilman Julius Oliver and businessman Ryan Kelly.

Pandemic facts

  • In the U.S.: 31,926,766 confirmed cases; 570,147 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine at 8 p.m. April 22.
  • In Ohio: 1,060,119 confirmed or suspected cases; 19,033 deaths.
  • In Pennsylvania: 1,122,662 confirmed cases; 25,879 deaths.
  • In the Mahoning Valley: 21,057 confirmed or suspected cases in Mahoning County; 15,684 in Trumbull; and 8,600 in Columbiana.
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: Closed at 33,815.90, down 321.41 points, or 0.94 percent.

Other matters

This week, attorney David Betras shares thoughts on the case that mesmerized the nation and the world since May 25, 2020: the trial of George Floyd’s murderer. Mahoning Matters

Touring the Covelli Centre vaccination clinic with first lady Fran DeWine on Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine maintained his urgent tone when discussing the current state of the coronavirus pandemic in Ohio. Mahoning Matters

In today’s Weekend Matters, we have a YSU-centric listing of entertainment ranging from an online cabaret show to an art exhibition to an honest-to-goodness LIVE outdoor student chamber music recital Saturday featuring two quintets. Mahoning Matters

A redevelopment investment group based in Miami, Fla., placed the winning $1.15 million bid for downtown’s Chase Tower building. The Business Journal [May require registration.]

A local legislator has taken aim at the Mill Creek MetroParks’ efforts to acquire rights of way from landowners to complete the third section of the MetroParks bikeway. The Vindicator [May encounter paywall.]

An employee for Youngstown City Schools is on paid leave while district officials are looking into a derogatory voicemail a parent says she received. WKBN

Officials from Austintown Township Parks have announced plans to host 18 concerts June 1 through Sept. 28. WFMJ

In case you missed it

While COVID-19 cases in Ohio appear to have plateaued again, the demographics of Ohioans hospitalized have changed. Ohio is seeing younger people getting hospitalized with COVID-19 at a higher rate. Mahoning Matters

Your comments matter

“Stay off the freeways and concentrate on the local community. Leave the revenue collection to the state police.”

— Jeremy Hoysack, on the Ohio House Transportation and Public Safety Committee approving House Bill 206, which would grant township trustees the authority to allow their police officers to enforce Ohio’s laws on the interstate highways in their jurisdiction. The bill is cosponsored by state Rep. Michael O’Brien of Warren.

Registered readers can comment on a selection of our stories, and all readers can comment on stories on our Facebook page. Opinions published here do not reflect the views of Mahoning Matters.

Event of the day

The cabaret show “Feeling Good, Welcome to Spring” will premiere at 7:30 p.m. on the Cliffe College of Creative Arts’ YouTube channel. Presented by Youngstown State University’s Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts, the performance is the students’ final project from the newly established course Singing Styles, which encourages students to explore all types of singing beyond just musical theater.

To see what else is going on around the Mahoning Valley, check out Mahoning Matters’ event calendar here, or click the Events tab on the top menu at mahoningmatters.com.

Story tips

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