Commissioners approve $2M in housing assistance

Lycoming County commissioners approved more than $2 million in funding for housing needs during their regular weekly meeting Thursday.

A total of $2.1 million in Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement (PHARE) dollars will go toward the Brodart Neighborhood Improvement Program and the Grove Street Commons as well as initiatives addressing financial assistance, flood mitigation and other issues.

In addressing the funding, Kim Wheeler, lead planner of the county’s department of planning and community development, noted the challenges in meeting housing needs for county residents.

Housing shortages of recent years, she said, are not solely the result of the natural gas drilling industry tied to the Marcellus Shale.

“However, the presence of the industry in the county has exacerbated already critical problems,” she said.

Funding will address 32 units at the Grove Street Commons senior independent living facility and interior and exterior weatherization and code upgrades for the Brodart Neighborhood Improvement Program.

Additional dollars will address flood mitigation including help for residents in need of elevation certificates, raising structures and filling in basements.

Financial assistance through the Lycoming County Supportive Housing Program will include help to families and individuals looking to keep their homes as well as those in need of general rental assistance.

In other matters, commissioners:

Approved an Emergency Management Performance Grant of $118,325 to cover 50 percent of costs needed to cover salaries and benefits for emergency management staff.

Approved the purchase of a boom lift from Best Line Equipment for $49,393.

Approved a $5,876 Radiation Emergency Response Fund grant agreement with Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency for training, equipment and other needs in support of the PPL plant in Berwick.