LOCK HAVEN - The Clinton County commissioners will look into an expansion of STEP's housing rehabilitation program, thanks to an influx of $150,000 from the Keystone Communities Program.
The program is a hybrid, beholden to a number of state and local programs, and is run by a regional clearinghouse for grant programs at STEP Inc.
While previous years have focused on specific communities in urban areas, County Planner Tim Holladay said this round of funding will likely be open, at least in part, to some of the more rural sections of the county.
Holladay said the need exists for housing rehabilitation regardless of population density, but the state has favored programs in which the more visible results can be shown, meaning 20 houses in a city have been favored over projects involving 20 houses in 20 different township.
It's only been a recent development that the state's housing and rehabilitation initiative been consolidated into the Keystone Communities, however.
In any case, STEP's housing rehabilitation experts - Director of Planning Rachelle Abbott and Director of Housing Services Kevin Mitcheltree - offered the county board an overview of the local efforts, along with a stack of documents covering $425,000 worth of effort over a three-year period.
The previous commitments by the county (a part of the $425,000) included $200,000 in Community Development Blog Grant funding and $75,000 from Act 137 funding, a program initiated in 1992 authorizing counties to increase the recording fees of deeds and mortgages to support or enhance local affordable housing efforts.
The commissioners are expected to approve a stack of documents at the board's June 28 voting meeting.
The county governments were given somewhat free rein to used the available funds for any program which increases the availability of quality housing, either sales or rental, to any county resident whose annual income is less than the median income of the county.
Mitcheltree and Abbott explained that the money the board provides is often used to leverage additional allocations as a match to other state or federal programs.
Eligible examples of STEP's program include rehabilitation of existing housing, construction of new rental or homeownership, and the rehabilitation of owner-occupied housing for resale.
The Lycoming-Clinton Counties Commission for Community Action (STEP), Inc. is a private, nonprofit community action agency. STEP frequently seeks partnerships with the complementary groups and entities to assist individuals, families and communities.
Staff members engage eligible homeowners and renters in developing a plan to use identified resources for solutions that provide affordable, safe, accessible and energy-efficient housing improvements.
The STEP office uses an in-house staff of 15 rehabilitation-construction workers with demonstrated design and construction management capabilities, and extensive training and field experience in rough and finish carpentry, masonry, plumbing, HVAC and energy conservation techniques, Mitcheltree said.
The rehabilitation programs are often used in conjunction with the PPL's corporate programs and the state's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).
Homes or rental properties often realize an increase in property value as a result of rehabilitation and renovation services.