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Federal funding for project approved for 46th year

City Council adopted an ordinance for the 46th year for the 2020 Community Development budget amounting to $1.3 million.

Money from the Housing and Urban Development provides housing assistance, rental rehabilitation and street reconstruction for the city. It is also used to help income-eligible individuals have pets and capture and release cats into the neighborhoods or re-home them.

Stephanie Young, city community development department director, oversees the programs.

“We appreciate the fine work your department has done for so many years,” Council President Randall J. Allison said to Young. The money is federal taxpayer money, spend in creative ways the department comes up with to apply it.

“It has really benefited our city, but it kind of moves under the radar,” Allison said. The funding is “instrumental in keeping our city sound and safe in a lot ways for people,” he said.

Based on estimates from last year, it is expected that $230,214 will be for the HOME program and $115,000 for the program income.

In terms of housing rehabilitation for single families, the department budgeted $25,000 in Community Development Block Grants and $130,358 in HOME dollars to help the income-eligible to making needed repairs to their homes.

The budget is $15,000 for handicapped accessible rehabilitation for improvements to residential properties occupied by low-income residents. The budget is $169,461 for program delivery for housing rehabilitation activities.

The budget is $30,482 for homebuyer activities, which requires 15 percent of the money to go to a Certified Housing Development Organization, such as either Lycoming Neighborhood Development Corp. or Greater Lycoming Habitat for Humanity, she said.

There is no budget set for codes enforcement as the city must reassess and evaluate those needs, Young said.

The budget is $15,000 for clearance and removal of blighted properties that codes officials determine are in need of demolition. The blight elimination will receive $4,607 for its program delivery.

That’s going to help individuals searching for properties in the city and making improvements to them, officials said.

Under expenditures for public facilities and improvements, the budget expects to spend $300,000 for street reconstruction, $75,000 for removal of architectural barriers and adding curb ramps curb; $125,000 for improvement to Lose Park, $125,000 for the same kind of improvements at Young’s Woods Parks.

“Work includes new lighting, a pavilion, landscaping, and possible playground upgrades,” Young said.

To match the funds, the department is preparing to apply for a $250,000 grant administered through the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The Saving Grace Homeless Shelter on Campbell Street, operated by the American Rescue Workers, will receive $15,236 for security additions and $51,047 public facilities program delivery.

The Lycoming County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on Reach Road will receive $8,500 for those income eligible pet owners to receive a voucher to either spay or neuter their animals and for microchips for pet identification.

The organization received additional funds this year to add a trap, spay or neuter and release component. After trapping the cats, they are spayed or neutered, then return to neighborhood or re-homed, Young said. Councilman Joel Henderson noted he and others worked on assuring the additional funding for this added program.

Firetree Place at Campbell Street will receive $8,000 to offset wages for four full-time counselors to be used for its after-school programs. The counselors give insighted, uplifting information and set the children on the right course instead of allowing them to get off track, according to Councilwoman Gerry Fausnaught. The facility also will receive $3,240 for its program delivery.

In other action taken council:

• Approved Lycoming County seeking $200,000 in Pennsylvania Housing and Affordable Rehabilitation Enhancement funds, which are from natural gas impact fees, for improvement to lower income households in the Park Avenue neighborhood plan.

• Permitted Lycoming County on behalf of the city to submit a grant for $1.1. million in repairs of cross pipes on the levee as part of the recertification process. The money could come from an H20 PA grant from the Commonwealth Finance Agency. The borough of South Williamsport also is involved with cross pipe repairs but the city’s need is more extensive.

• Authorized demolition of a former restaurant at 2868 Reach Road. The owner wants a garage built for tanker and water trucks used in the gas industry.

• Granted approval for a certificate of appropriateness for 11 W. Fourth St., two business identification signs. The signs were put up but were covered by order of codes until the final approval was given. Owners of properties are receiving a letter in the central business district ensuring they know the process.

• Supported lot consolidation for 42 Washington Blvd. The proposed plan is to consolidate four parcels into one parcel for a church.

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