The North Canton Community Growth Association (NCCGA) has a multi-step plan for a grant they recently received from the Credit Bureau of Canton Small Business Fund at Stark Community Foundation.

The $5,000 grant will be used to facilitate a demographic and housing study of North Canton’s neighborhoods.

The overall mission of the NCCGA is to support and promote activities and programs beneficial to the public interest in North Canton. The group was incorporated in 2012 and received a 501(c)(3) status in 2013. The NCCGA helps attract new businesses and residents to the area, assists in eliminating community deterioration, educates the community on sustainability issues, preserves the neighborhoods, reduces the burden of government and encourages private development initiatives.

The data gathered and analyzed for the study will be used to help homeowners obtain grants to help modernize and repair their older homes around the city neighborhoods.

“North Canton does have, like a lot of areas, an aging population,” said Doug Lane, president of the NCCGA. “The aging population, over time, does put an extra burden on city services including aging housing that requires increased maintenance. North Canton has been voted as the fourth-best city to retire in Ohio. While we appreciate that rating, we know we also need to attract younger families for a number of reasons such as growing our school system.”

Jeff Davies, vice president of NCCGA, said North Canton City Schools has lost 400 students since 2008 which equates to around $200,000 a year. More than 40 percent of North Canton’s residents are over the age of 50. As they retire, their single-family homes are being purchased and used as rental units. One of the goals of the NCCGA is to keep more single families in those homes as a home owner versus a renter.

“The city has a lot of good landlords and good renters but there are some that are bad landlords and not so good renters,” Lane said. “Those homes are not being taken care of and the ultimate goal of getting the study done is to change that trend.”

NCCGA is partnering with Walsh University to gather the data, analyze it and create the report. The North Canton YMCA and North Canton City has also offered their assistance in completing the study. Lane said they are hoping to have the study completed and available on the organization’s website sometime in May.

Data will be collected from the Stark County Auditor’s office, U.S. Census, Stark County Building Department along with other sources. Davies said the study will help the NCCGA determine where the city is in terms of population, aging houses and rentals.

“We have a sense that we are seeing an increase in aging population and aging housing stock, this study will tell us for sure where the city is in both categories,” Davies said. “We know there are a lot of homes that were built in the 1920s. Getting this study now will help us in the future to determine what needs done to housing to help maintain the city’s infrastructure. We have little land left in North Canton for new development so we need to find a way to help home owners update their older homes.”  He said the NCCGA could help home owners apply for matching grants to help them update the outside of their home, update a bathroom or kitchen, get a new high efficiency furnace or make their homes greener and more sustainable. “This project and future projects all revolve around the data,” Lane said. “This grant will help us complete the study so that we can move forward.”