Commissioners pursue grant for housing projects

Lycoming County commissioners Thursday approved a $1.3 million grant application to support city housing projects that are expected to bring 200 new or revitalized housing units.

The money would come from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency’s affordability and rehabilitation grant for three projects – Memorial Homes, Grove Street Commons and a neighborhood improvement project surrounding the former Brodart warehouse on Memorial Avenue.

Plans for Memorial Homes, at the site of the former Brodart warehouse, include 40 housing units for low- to moderate income families; Grove Street Commons is expected to have 32 apartment-style homes for senior citizens; and the neighborhood improvement project would focus on about 150 existing homes in the Memorial Avenue neighborhood for interior and exterior health and safety improvements, facade restorations and streetscape enhancements, according to Kim Wheeler, county community development planner.

The county received $1.1 million last year from the same grant. The money essentially is “overflow” funding from county municipalities that receive more than $500,000 in Act 13 natural gas drilling distributions.

By law, local municipalities are capped at getting $500,000 from Act 13. Any amount beyond that goes to the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund, from which Lycoming County is requesting its grant.

Wheeler said the city has allocated $350,000 toward the projects from various sources, including Act 13 funding and Community Development Block Grants

The county is investing $610,000 in the project from Act 13 funding over three years.

Commissioners also accepted a $603,636 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant to be used for the county’s nutrient credit trading program, local Chesapeake Bay clean up initiatives, public education efforts and a staff position that would work with the county’s conservation district.

The new position, which is funded for three years under the grant, would work with farmers in Snyder and Union counties on conservation efforts, according to Commissioner Jeff C. Wheeland.

A solid waste permit modification with the state Department of Transportation also was approved by commissioners.

The change allows the county-operated landfill in Montgomery to accept high-density polyethylene liners that are used in the natural gas drilling industry. Michael Hnatin, county Resource Management Services engineer, said the liners would be cleaned and sent to a recycling firm.

Commissioners also approved a $297,524 state Department of Health grant to support the Lycoming-Tioga-Sullivan EMS Council for ambulance inspections, training and equipment.