GantDaily: Clearfield County OKs Application for Affordable Housing

CLEARFIELD, Pa. – Yesterday, the Clearfield County Commissioners approved applying for funding that would continue to help area residents who need affordable housing and home rehabilitation.

The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) recently solicited applications for Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Funds (PHARE). PHARE Funds assist with the creation, rehabilitation and support of affordable housing throughout the state, according to Clearfield County Planning Director Jodi Brennan.

The Marcellus Shale Impact Fee, the Act 13 legislation of 2012, makes specific allocations to the PHARE Fund, Brennan said. She explained that Act 13 allocations to the PHARE Fund are to address housing needs in the counties with unconventional gas wells that have also adopted a local Impact Fee.

Clearfield County, she said, is a sixth-class county impacted by the development of Marcellus Shale and it has adopted an Impact Fee ordinance. As a result, she said the county is eligible to receive PHARE Funding and there’s approximately $104,500 available to Clearfield County.

According to Brennan, members of the county’s housing taskforce have identified many housing needs. However, she said members found two programs with “the greatest potential to serve an immediate need” while also fitting the 2014 PHARE Fund criterion and building in a sustainability component for case management.

“The chance of success greatly improves when you provide an individual or family with the skills needed to maintain a home,” she said. “This could be by providing financial or household management skills, such as preparing monthly household budgets or putting eligible candidates in touch with job training opportunities.

“These [components] could increase their household earnings, and they’re the types of programs that the commissioners have strongly supported in the past with County Affordable Housing Trust Funds.”

Brennan said they had selected a Rental & Homeless Assistance Program and a Substandard Housing Repair Program to include on their PHARE Fund application to the PHFA.

The Rental & Homeless Assistance Program, she said, would assist individuals and or at-risk families and prevent homelessness by finding them long-term living solutions. This, she said, could include direct rental assistance, security deposit payments and or past due utility payments, as well as case management services to assist with maintaining home stability.

She said the Substandard Housing Program would be used in conjunction with housing counseling services to assist individuals and or at-risk families by repairing any identified housing deficiencies and making homes a safe and healthy living environment.

Individuals and at-risk families who are at or below 50 percent of the area’s median income would be given priority by both housing assistance programs, said Brennan. She noted that Cen-Clear Child Services, which has an existing housing counseling program and a working relationship with the population to be served by the PHARE Funds, is willing to administer both programs on behalf of Clearfield County.

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