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Area agencies to receive money for housing assistance

A funding boost through the Pennsylvania Housing and Finance Agency will allow area agencies to extend help for housing assistance.

Kendra Parke, marketing coordinator, American Rescue Workers, said the agency is grateful to receive $100,000 for its rental assistance program.

“We help hundreds of families each year,” she said.

Parke said COVID-19 only created greater problems for those facing housing issues.

A rent moratorium prevented tenants from being penalized or evicted by landlords during the pandemic, but now many of those people are faced with paying back rents.

“And we are helping them do that,” Parke said. “We are grateful to receive that money.”

The Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund (PHARE) was established to provide the mechanism by which certain allocated state or federal funds, as well as funds from other outside sources, would be used to assist with affordable housing.

The state’s natural gas Impact Tax provides $5 million annually to the Marcellus Shale Fund to support PHARE for addressing affordable housing in counties where unconventional gas wells are located.

“PHARE is a crucial part of our overall effort to improve our economy and provide affordable housing to state residents, especially in the Northern Tier and across the Senate District I am proud to represent,” state Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, said.

Rachelle Abbott, chief operations and planning officer, STEP, Inc., said her agency is grateful for its funding allocation amounting to $515,000.

“We have been receiving PHARE funding through Lycoming County for quite a few years which has been wonderful,” she said.

The money will go toward three STEP programs: Supportive Housing, $265,000; Homes in Need, $225,000; and Urgent Need, $25,000.

The Supportive Housing Program helps people in danger of eviction or mortgage foreclosure on their homes.

The Urgent Need and Homes in Need programs provide funding for housing repairs and upgrades.

Abbott said eligible people can also apply for aid through the Emergency Rental Assistance program, a STEP-related funding source not connected to PHARE.

“We have had 730 applications for that,” she said.

Other Lycoming County agencies receiving PHARE funding are as follows:

• Transitional Living Centers Master Leasing Program, $200,000 for those re-entering society from prisons, persons with serious mental illnesses, and those at-risk for homelessness to gain housing stability.

• YMCA North Central PA Liberty House, $70,000, to support those who do not fit into the recovery category but experience homelessness.

• Greater Lycoming Habitat for Humanity Memorial Homes, $63,000, to construct a single-family home for a qualified family.

Another $80,000 is being allocated to the Sullivan County Rental Assistance program to help eligible households.

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