Funding initiative against housing shortage | News, Sports, Jobs

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A housing start grant initiative announced this week by Lycoming County commissioners is seeking to address the housing shortage identified at meetings earlier this year to examine how funds from the county’s American Rescue Plan (ARPA) on best can be assigned.

“In the meetings we had on our ARPA funds, initially with community leaders and council members, the City of Williamsport, sewerage and water authorities, developers and real estate agents, we learned that there was a housing shortage in Lycoming County.” Commissioner Scott Metzger said. “We heard about a statewide one, and it’s in Lycoming County too.”

“We were told about a year ago that there are typically about 600 houses on the market in Lycoming County. At that time there were about 125.” said butcher.

“We’ve had employers expanding in Lycoming County. There are new employers coming to Lycoming County. We want to make sure there is affordable housing for these employers and for people who choose to move here or relocate or even upgrade the homes that are available. he said.

A small task force was formed from meetings with the developers, brokers and water authorities to investigate the problem and try to find solutions. From this, an application for the grant program of the Housing Supply Initiative was developed.

“Recent housing market analysis results and stakeholder feedback indicate the need to increase the inventory of upgraded housing to better diversify our current real estate market.” according to a press release from John Lavelle, the deputy director of the county’s Department of Planning and Community Development.

“This program is designed to complement already established housing efforts that currently offer programs for

drive income-based housing rehabilitation, affordable housing and senior housing, and an increase in development, and help reduce the impact of inflation on new home prices,” the release said.

The county anticipates a budget of $2 million in 2022 and an additional $2 million in 2023. The program will be funded entirely from Act 13 revenue from Act 13 natural gas impact fee revenue.

According to the district, the grants will be used to cover the costs of necessary improvements, connections to public water and sewage systems or demolition in order to boost the growth of the commercial housing sector.

To be eligible for the grants, all proposals must be within the county’s designated growth area and propose at least 10 buildable lots or units or at least three buildable housing units in established communities. Compelling proposals will receive grants covering up to one-third of the total cost of eligible items, up to a maximum of $500,000.

“One of the most important things is that it has to be in one of the county’s designated growth areas. You can find the designated growth area by going to the county website and looking under the county planning department.” Commissioner Rick Mirabito said.

One of the problems, Mirabito pointed out, is that much of the county’s housing stock is very old.

“We have some people moving here from other parts of the country where they’re not used to buying a house that’s a hundred years old … so having new homes is part of the process.” Mirabito added.

“Part of that is also making sure we find ways to take over this existing housing stock so that not only do we get flight from the counties and townships to the new housing, but we also do a way of making sure housing is educated and is thus encouraged.” said Mirabito.

“We believe this will help developers. When they came to us, they expressed that the developments are too expensive, they cannot pay for the water and sewerage. Costs are increasing due to bottlenecks in the supply chain. It’s simply no longer worth developing housing if we don’t help with the infrastructure,” said butcher. “It’s a way we can help them build affordable housing in Lycoming County.”

“We need workers to come into the area for the jobs created, and to have workers we need to have places to house them,” said Mirabito.

Lycoming County Commissioners have developed an application process to receive formal inquiries from interested parties. The district will review the project submissions on a rolling deadline. Grants will be awarded to proposals that the commissioners deem eligible and feasible on a first-come, first-served basis pending allocation of budgeted funds per county information

Interested parties can submit applications to the county beginning October 1. Application materials and instructions are available on the county’s website at www.lyco.org/grants. If you have additional questions, please contact Lavelle at 570-320-2139 or email [email protected]



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