BETHLEHEM (June 9, 2022) – State Senator Lisa Boscola announced today that six affordable housing projects in the 18th Senatorial District have been approved for up to $1,021,221 in funding through the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund (PHARE), which is managed through the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.
“The need to provide affordable housing has always been critical here in the Lehigh Valley and that need has only been magnified in the past few years,” Senator Boscola stated. “Funding through PHARE is an important tool through which funding can be distributed into our local communities who are in desperate need to provide affordable housing opportunities. By doing so, the Commonwealth can make a positive impact in revitalizing local communities,” she added.
The six projects approved for funding are:
- Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley ($411,800) for the Community Action Better Homes: Housing Rehabilitation to Increase Energy Efficiency and Mobility project. The proposed effort involves a comprehensive strategy to address the most critical housing needs for owner-occupied LMI households in the Lehigh Valley. CABH will expand its owner-occupied rehab program to include energy efficiency and mobility upgrades. These upgrades will create a safe, affordable, and sustainable living situation while also decreasing utility bills and ensuring older and/or physically disabled homeowners are able to age in place and increase their independence.
- United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley ($239,451) for its Lehigh Valley Regional Homeless Advisory Board Eviction Defense Services Program. The Lehigh Valley Regional Homeless Advisory Board’s Eviction Defense Services Program will provide eviction defense services to 225 low-income households resulting the prevention of 75 evictions, and other beneficial outcomes including negotiating settlements, preserving housing subsidies, avoiding excess debt, and/or improving the habitability of housing.
- PA Days Restart, LLC ($200,000) for the Dutchtown Commons project in the West Ward of the City of Easton was approved. Dutchtown Commons is a planned housing and retail development in the West Ward of the City of Easton in Northampton County. This project will transform seven adjacent, vacant, or underutilized lots into a seven-story structure that has a supermarket, two parking lots, and a total of 39 one- and two-bedroom apartments. Affordable housing will be available to two (2) households with income below 50% of the MAI and four (4) households with income between 50 and 200% MAI. One unit will be accessible.
- Merakey Pennsylvania ($65,000) for its Preventing Homeless for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care program. Merakey is requesting PHARE funds for building renovations and furnishings that will enable a program to house up to six (6) young adults who are aging out of the foster care system. Renovations include internal and external painting, installation of a toilet, relocating the bathroom door, and installing security cameras/ring doorbell. The funds will also be used to furnish the home.
- Catalyst 4 ($65,000): Catalyst4 addresses the concurrent problems of limited affordable housing and too many blighted properties by training individuals to become construction laborers, carpenters, electricians, painters, and plumbers, all of which were identified as High Priority Occupations for the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Area in 2021. In addition to rehabilitating blighted properties, trainees will also renovate renter-occupied homes, tailoring renovations to the needs of the renter and addressing accessibility issues. Revitalized homes that are safe and of high quality will be made available to anyone in need of affordable housing. During this pilot project, PHARE funds will used for construction training and costs related to the acquisition and/or rehabilitation of blighted homes.
- Bucks County Housing Group, Inc. ($40,000) for a Housing Counseling Program. The proposed effort, to be undertaken the Housing Counseling Program (HCP), will expand and preserve home ownership opportunities for low-income, first-time homebuyers through HCPs Home Ownership Savings Account Program and First-Time Homebuyer Seminar. The funds will also go towards increasing marketing and outreach efforts to reach more potential participants and retain the Administrative Assistant as a full-time employee to continue to build capacity amongst the program and serve more participants. Services will be available to Northampton and Lehigh County residents.
Funding for the PHARE program comes from three main sources: portion of the impact fee from natural gas drilling, a portion of the realty transfer tax and money from the National Housing Trust Fund. The six projects in the 18th Senatorial District were funded through the realty transfer tax.