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Comitta, Williams Announce State Funding for Housing Programs in Coatesville and Chester County

HARRISBURG – June 22, 2021 – A new program in the City of Coatesvillle will support residents and homeowners struggling to maintain or repair their homes thanks to $500,000 in state funding, state Senator Carolyn Comitta and state Representative Dan Williams said today.

The Movement Community Development Corporation (MCDC) was recently awarded the funding through the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement (PHARE) fund.

The funds will support MCDC’s Coatesville Housing Rehabilitation Program, which aims to provide vital repair and rehabilitation services to vulnerable residents and property owners who may be at risk of losing the ability to live in their homes due to costly repairs. 

“This will give us the opportunity to help those in our community whose properties are in need of repair,” said Alphonso Newsuan, MCDC Founder and Executive Director. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, many members of our community have been adversely affected mentally, physically, and financially. It’s our hope that this initiative will bring about much-needed relief in regard to the rehabilitation of their homes

“MCDC wishes to thank all parties involved that helped make the approval of our grant possible,” he added.

The support for MCDC comes as part of $2.285 million in total PHARE funding awarded to nine organizations and entities for housing assistance, affordability, and homelessness prevention programs throughout Chester County.

“Helping residents stay in their homes, access affordable housing opportunities, and prevent homelessness benefits our entire Chester County community,” Senator Comitta said. “As we continue to recover economically from this pandemic, it’s important that we to move forward together. By investing in local services and organizations, we can help ensure that every individual and family has the opportunity to succeed, grow, and thrive.”

“Repairing homes in our community improves our community’s infrastructure. Improving access to critical home repairs ensures our community will rise and prosper. MCDC is an excellent advocate for improving quality of life in the 74th district, and I’m elated that they will be able to advance their programs with this funding,” Rep. Williams said.

The Chester County Department of Community Development will receive $500,000 in PHARE funding for its Decade to Doorways Street Outreach and Non-Congregate Emergency Housing proposal. It aims to offer a continuum of services to Chester County’s most vulnerable individuals with the intent of making homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring.

“We are very appreciative of the support that the Chester County Partnership to End Homelessness has received from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and Pennsylvania Senator Carolyn Comitta.  This PHARE grant award in the amount of $500,000 will enable our street outreach team to continue to engage individuals and families experiencing homelessness and find housing solutions for them,” said Pat Bokovitz, Director of the Chester County Department of Community Development.

The Friends Association for the Care and Protection of Children will receive $400,000 in total PHARE funding to support two programs. They are:

  • $300,000 to support the NIA House, Chester County’s first diversionary reentry home for women with children returning to the community after incarceration. The home, located in Coatesville, offers a respite for women healing from the trauma of incarceration and a catalyst for family reunification and long-term self-sustainability. PHARE funds will be used to provide operating support for the second year of this innovative project and will include additional programming to enhance the services offered to at least 25 women. 
  • $100,000 for the Eviction Prevention Court (EPC) and Homelessness Prevention Program, a newly established program that provides support to individuals and families facing eviction through legal representation, financial support, and linkages to social services. The funding will allow the Friends Association to expand the EPC to three additional courts in Chester County and expand its newly established Homelessness Prevention Program, focusing on women with co-occurring diagnoses.

“We are thrilled to be named as a recipient of PHARE funds to support families in Chester County. This investment in Chester County allows us to address vital housing needs in innovative, community-driven ways. Together, we have the resources and creativity we need to make sure that all of our neighbors have access to stable, safe housing,” said Jennifer Lopez, Executive Director of the Friends Association for Care & Protection for Children.

Safe Harbor of Chester County will receive $130,000 in PHARE funding to support its emergency shelter for residents experiencing homelessness.

According to Chief Executive Officer Judy Jeffords-Homitz, the grant award will help Safe Harbor provide much needed emergency shelter and case management services to single men and single women during these unprecedented times our Chester County residents will face in the months ahead.

Safe Harbor is the only shelter available for single women and one of the two largest available for single men in Chester County, providing more than 65 percent of the total emergency beds available for single adults. Through case management services, residents are given full attention to help move them toward self-sustainability and permanent housing placement. Safe Harbor has also recently expanded services to assist former residents after housing placement, Jeffords-Homitz said.

The W.C. Atkinson Memorial Community Service Center in Coatesville will receive $150,000 in PHARE Funding for Housing Rehabilitation and Individualized Intensive Case Management services.

According to Minnie McNeil, who founded the center nearly three decades ago and continues to operate it today, the funding will support staffing for case management and the rehabilitation and upgrade of its five supportive homes and 22-bed emergency men’s shelter. She said the center maintains a safe and empowering environment where staff and volunteers effectively assist homeless men to identify their root cause for homelessness, acquire stable housing, and become self-sufficient with rare recidivism.

“This work could not be accomplished as effectively without the support of this grant award,” McNeil said.

Open Hearth will receive $115,000 in PHARE funding for its Targeted Homelessness Resource Coordination program, a community-wide effort to end homelessness in Chester County.

“Open Hearth is proud to be the recipient of generous funding for our Targeted Homelessness Resource Coordination program,” said Executive Director Kelly Raggazino. “The Targeted Homelessness Resource Coordinator leads the crucial work of facilitating weekly case conferencing attended by the homeless crisis response system providers with other health and human service providers to ensure the highest priority households on the By Name List are being enrolled into housing and supportive services as quickly as possible.”

The Housing Partnership of Chester County (HPCC) will receive $250,000 in PHARE funding to support its First Homes For Stronger Neighborhoods program, which is designed to purchase, renovate and sell homes at below market rates to low-to-moderate income first-time buyers. 

According to HPCC, the state support will augment funds already received from the Chester County Department of Community Development, the Wells Fargo Foundation, and others. Since 1988, HPCC has administered a number of successful programs including: The First Time Homebuyers Program, Home Rehabilitation, Senior Citizen Home Maintenance, Home Access Modification, and Budget and Credit Counseling.

The Housing Authority of Chester County will receive $240,000 in PHARE funding to support its Housing Locator Program, which with Chester County residents who are experiencing homelessness and need assistance to find and retain housing. The funds will be used to fund a Housing Locator and Housing Case Manager, as well as expanding the landlord incentive programs.

The PHARE fund, often referred to as the state’s Housing Trust Fund, is administered by the Pennsylvania Housing and Finance Agency (PHFA).

Funding for the PHARE-supported projects in Chester County comes from a portion of the realty transfer tax. Since 2012, PHARE also receives a portion of the impact fees collected from natural gas companies operating in Pennsylvania.

The $2.285 million in PHARE funding awarded to nine Chester County programs and organizations is part of 223 housing and community development initiatives statewide that will share a portion of the total $44.9 million in funding for the 2020-21fiscal year.

“Over the last nine years, the PHARE program has proven to be popular because local organizations and leaders determine how best to spend the funds to address their housing needs,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “The funding may come from Harrisburg, but its application to improve housing is driven locally, which is why it is so effective.”

In total, this round of PHARE funding is expected to impact more than 3,300 Pennsylvania households across the Commonwealth through a variety of efforts funding:

  • Rental/utility assistance
  • Down payment/closing cost assistance for first-time homebuyers
  • Blight remediation initiatives
  • Rental housing preservation and rehabilitation, and
  • Other innovative projects and programs

“What I find most impressive about PHARE is the wide variety of ways the funding is used to address local housing challenges,” said PHFA Executive Director and CEO Robin Wiessmann. “The recipients of PHARE funding in each county know their housing needs best, so they direct the money to address pressing housing concerns in ways that will do the most good.”

PHFA reports that at least $30.1 million of the $44.9 million allocated today will be used to fund housing projects benefiting households with incomes below 50 percent of the area median income. That represents 67 percent of the awarded funding.

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