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Lycoming County commissioners eye pandemic assistance for agency providers

Lycoming County commissioners are expected Thursday to vote on grant applications to ease the burdens of those affected by losses in income due to COVID-19.

Following discussion Tuesday, commissioners are expected to approve an application for $290,196 in Community Development Block Grant funding.

The grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will be eyed for four service providing agencies in Lycoming County, said Kristin McLaughlin, project coordinator with the SEDA-Council of Governments.

Commissioners Scott Metzger, chairman, and Rick Mirabito said they are expected to take action on the items Thursday. Commissioner Tony Mussare was absent for the discussion.

The grants are earmarked for the American Rescue Workers and STEP Inc., both which would receive $55,000. Also, Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, $19,000, and North Central Sight Services, $19,776, McLaughlin said.

STEP Inc. provides housing and rental assistance and American Rescue Workers can use the grant for mortgage assistance, rental assistance and utility payment assistance, McLaughlin said.

It’s important to the public that people know grant funding for STEP includes money for mortgage funds up to three months not only rental, Mirabito said.

“If you have rent in arrears, apply now,” he said, urging caution about the end of the May eviction moratorium that was recently extended by order of Gov. Tom Wolf and is until the end of August.

Wolf’s order was meant to protect homeowners and renters from eviction or foreclosure until Aug. 31, if they have not received assistance from a new program administered by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) or are not receiving federal assistance.

STEP also has $500,000 available, separately from the block grant application, that can go toward its Supportive Housing program, Mirabito said.

For those who are unemployed, faced a business closure or temporary closures, the grant assistance will be available, he said.

“If there is a need, and the agencies can’t spend the grant, we can reallocate the funding,” McLaughlin said.

The food bank provides an emergency box of food which costs the agency $32 per week, she said.

The site services can use the grant allocation it requested for transporting blind and visually-impaired residents.

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