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Fontana Announces $3M for Home Ownership Efforts in Region

HARRISBURG, June 11, 2021 – Local organizations that help low-income homebuyers achieve their dream and help others stabilize their lives, will receive $3 million in state funding to advance their efforts, state Sen. Wayne D. Fontana announced today.

“Home ownership is at the heart of the American dream, but that dream has been deferred for too many people through the last recession and then the pandemic,” Fontana said. “For many it’s simply the difficulty of navigating the complications of banking and real estate.  A little guidance and even temporary shelter can go a long way to help families achieve their goals and become thriving members of their communities.”

The grants are made available through the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement (PHARE) fund, which is managed by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. 

Funding for the PHARE awards comes from two main sources. Since 2012, the program has received a portion of the impact fees collected from natural gas companies operating in the state with the goal of addressing the housing shortage caused by the impact of drilling. That is supplemented with funding provided by a portion of the realty transfer tax. The PHARE fund is often referred to as the state’s Housing Trust Fund. 

“This is a highly competitive grant program and the number of awardees in my district shows how hard are local organizations are working and how much that work is paying off. I’m proud to see so much in resources being made available to local families,” Fontana said.

The winners of grant awards are:

Neighborhood Housing Services Inc., South Pittsburgh Home Ownership Program $80,000 to support increased homeownership in Pittsburgh’s South Hilltop neighborhoods through down payment and closing cost assistance grants and loans combined with education and counseling to prepare prospective low- and moderate-income homebuyers for homeownership.

Catapult Greater Pittsburgh, Inc. , Decreasing Racial and Economic Disparity Through Homeownership and Asset Building

$200,000 to use custom-designed curricula for both pre-purchase and post-purchase homeowner assistance, Circles Greater Pittsburgh will assist dozens of low-income households determine their readiness for homeownership, assist them in buying a home they can afford, and preparing them to protect and grow the value of their home as a means of asset building.

Oakland Planning and Development Corporation, Racial Equity in Oakland Homebuying: Supporting BIPOC families through Oakland Community Land Trust

$200,000 to will deploy a unique and creative approach to address historic racial disparities in homeownership rates by supporting Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) households to purchase homes through the Oakland Community Land Trust (CLT). BIPOC residents will receive funding and financial counseling.

ACTION-Housing, Inc., Project Cares

$150,000 to support six months of operations and a meal program using a full commercial kitchen and dining room to meet the needs of shelter residents at the Project Cares shelter, a low barrier shelter and SRO facility in Downtown Pittsburgh that will provide housing, support, health care and other resources to individuals experiencing homelessness. 

City of Bridges CLT, Fineview Community Land Trust

$150,000 to create the first permanently affordable units in the Fineview neighborhood of Pittsburgh. City of Bridges CLT is an independent organization dedicated to expanding the impact of permanently affordable housing throughout Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. The project will consist of the rehabilitation of two existing single-family homes, and the development of 4 new construction single family homes, to create six community land trust units.

Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh, Safe & Healthy Repairs for Owner-Occupied Homes in McKees Rocks

$200,000 to complete ten owner-occupied rehabilitations in McKees Rocks. Prior to completing repairs, RTP will provide a whole-home assessment to test for lead, mold, radon, air quality, and energy efficiency. The scope of work will incorporate the most cost-effective and impactful repairs. Following the repairs, RTP will conduct a post-evaluation to measure the repairs’ impact.

TomTom24 Development, LLC, TomTom24 Development

$250,000 to acquire and rehabilitate the former Hamm’s Barbershop building, which is currently vacant and dilapidated, to provide four much needed units of affordable housing above the shop. The project will serve as an early catalyst to the neighborhood focused revitalization of the Centre Avenue corridor of the Hill District.

North Hills Affordable Housing Inc., HEARTH: 25 Years of Changing Lives

$200,000 to provide safe affordable housing and supportive services solutions to vulnerable populations, including transitional and affordable housing. Funds will be used primarily for women with children who are working to become economically self-sufficient after surviving domestic violence or other trauma within HEARTH’s transitional housing program.

The Community at Holy Family Manor, Inc., PHARE Housing on the North Side

$100,000 to preserve and maintain 24 homes in historic Northside neighborhood. Nazareth serves the poor, the elderly, and disabled who can no longer afford the repairs old houses often require. Services are intended to help clients maintain a home to pass on to the next generation.

Community Human Services Corporation, Equity for Pittsburgh’s Black Mothers

$175,000 for a homelessness prevention project that will provide rental assistance, case management, and access to necessary maternal and child development resources for 20 households headed by single, Black women with children. This project aims to directly address the racial and gender inequities that increase the likelihood of poverty for Black women and children living in Pittsburgh, as revealed by Pittsburgh’s Inequality Across Gender and Race report by the Gender Equity Commission.

Allegheny County, County Save Your Home Program – Housing Counseling

$150,000 to help homeowners avert foreclosure and save their homes by providing housing counseling services. The program is a collaboration between the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, County Sheriff’s Department, County Dept. of Economic Development, and ACTION-Housing, Inc. It is coordinated by the Allegheny County Dept. of Economic Development.

Allegheny County Dept. of Human Services, Allegheny County Mobility Counseling Program

$350,000 to assist households that have at least one child under 18 (with a focus on families with children under 13) to move to high opportunity, low poverty neighborhoods. The project consists of landlord outreach and recruitment, pre-move mobility counseling, post-move case management and service coordination, and client assistance with security deposits and moving expenses.

Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, Home Accessibility Program for Independence (HAPI)

$300,000 to provide grants to homeowners and renters for accessibility modifications to their homes to allow them to age in place and avoid displacement. The program works with specialized contractors to provide critical items such as stairlifts, bathroom remodels, and wheelchair accessibility modifications. The program allows seniors and people with disabilities to continue living in their homes, providing greater independence.

Hill Community Development Corporation, Hill District 100 Program

$400,000 to increase opportunities for home ownership in the Hill District. The Hill District 100 embraces the Hill District’s rich cultural legacy while advancing revitalization and support for potential home buyers to systematically grow the Hill District, increase wealth, and transform the community. The program offers a comprehensive approach to home buying for first- time buyers and for those who have been in the market before.

Willissae’s Agency for Vision and Empowerment, WAVE Housing Services

$50,000 to empower individuals who face barriers to discover and reach their potential through education, housing counseling, social services, long-term support and community development. Programs assist participants with becoming self-sufficient (stable housing, eviction/homelessness prevention, homeownership, wealth creation, employment, financial security, overall wellness, etc.).

More information on statewide PHARE funding awards can be found here.

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