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Canton For All People revitalizing Shorb neighborhood

Multiple homes getting rehabbed, new market coming
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Posted at 5:40 PM, Feb 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-09 18:43:12-05

CANTON, Ohio — Elaine Kirk loves her Gilmore Avenue home in Canton's Shorb neighborhood where she has lived for 40 years.

"I liked it from the beginning so I stuck. I'm here. I do love it," Kirk said.

However, she has noticed a decline in the area near downtown over the years.

"It has changed. A lot of seniors are gone, passed away or moved on, but it has changed and it was getting a little bit frightening," she said.

But Kirk welcomes recent changes that include the sounds of construction taking place inside a 105-year-old house next door. It's all part of a neighborhood revitalization project organized by a community development corporation called Canton For All People.

"I think Canton is on the up-and-up with what's going on with this project," Kirk added.

Canton For All People, which was started by Crossroads United Methodist Church, bought 11 homes in the Shorb neighborhood that are in various stages of rehab.

"We see it as our mission to kind of rebuild these neighborhoods and improve the quality of life for the people who live in them," said Pastor Don Ackerman, the executive director of the organization.

Ackerman said two of the houses were torn down, including one struck by lightning, but the others will be fixed up as rentals or provide home ownership opportunities.

"What do we do to the house? Everything. Everything from replacing the old cracked drainpipes to getting rid of asbestos that was around the insulation and the ventilation in the house. We replace drywall. We put in new kitchens. We put up new roofs. We do siding," Ackerman said.

The revitalization is considered very important to an old neighborhood where one in five house or lots is vacant and the median income is $26,000, Ackerman said.

The average cost from purchase to rehab is $107,000, according to Ackerman.

"You can't build a 1,700,-1,800-square-foot house with three bedrooms and a bathroom and basement for $107,000 today," he said.

Canton For All People also bought a building that once housed an appliance shop on Shorb Avenue for $50,000. It will be transformed into a market and resource center and is expected to open by the end of the year.

Gino Haynes, the community organizer for Canton For All People, takes the project personally because he lives in the neighborhood. He compared it to growing up in a similar neighborhood in Akron.

"When I see people living in the conditions that they live in and kind of battling the same issues that I did growing up, it tugs at your heart to have that kind of personal investment," Haynes said.

Ackerman said funding to fix up the houses comes from a variety of sources, including foundations, donations and American Rescue Plan Act dollars.

The house next to Kirk's home was the first rehab project using ARPA funding. Ackerman pointed to another nearby house under renovation that received money from the Lemmon Family Foundation and Crossroads United Methodist Church.

"The beautiful thing about selling these houses and when people buy houses is these dollars don't go elsewhere. They stay here," Ackerman said.

Kirk is excited to see the finished products in her neighborhood believing it will improve her property value and provide her with something else.

"Peace of mind. You have no idea," she said. "My family is just thrilled to death with this."

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