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Federal money would fund new townhouses

April 05, 2001

Federal money would fund new townhouses



By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Franklin County Board of Commissioners Thursday approved an application for federal funds to build 10 new townhouses in Washington Township to augment low-income housing options in the county.

Phil Wolgemuth, a planner with the Franklin County Planning Commission, said the application for $500,000 would be submitted today to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, which administers the federal grants.

The money would fund 10 townhouses on Picadilly Circle in Washington Township and would bring the total number of homes built in conjunction with the Mid-Atlantic Coalition for Housing Opportunities Inc. of Waynesboro, Pa., to 50 in the Sheffield Manor community.

Through the partnership with MACHO, there are 40 townhouses in Sheffield Manor approved, with 28 constructed on Kings Road, and another dozen units under way, he said.

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The units are geared toward low-income, first-time home buyers.

The Washington Township Board of Supervisors has given its support to the application, but the application had to be filed by the county.

According to Jo Willard, MACHO housing counselor, more than 275 people have applied for consideration of a MACHO home.

People often are disqualified because of their salaries or credit histories, she said.

In the existing units, there are seven married couples with children, three single residents with no children, 11 single mothers, four unmarried couples with children, and one single father.

In all, 40 children live there.

Before moving into the homes, the residents were all living with family members or in substandard housing, said Doris Thrailkill, executive director of MACHO.

"There isn't a family there that would have been able to purchase a home without the program," Willard said.

Each unit is sold for about $86,317, and buyers pay a fixed 1 percent to 6 percent interest rate on their loan financed through the Rural Housing Service, which gets its money from the USDA, Thrailkill said.

"They're setting people up to succeed in home ownership, not to fail," said County Commissioner Bob Thomas.

It will be at least three months before the county finds out whether the funds have been approved, and will take about two years for construction to be completed.

The 12 units approved under a 2000 grant are under construction, with one slated for completion at the end of the month.

"This has been very successful. I believe an application for 10 more units is warranted," Wolgemuth said.

The proposed project is consistent with the county's Comprehensive Plan objective to encourage affordable, owner-occupied housing in existing communities, he said.

For more information on the program, contact Mid-Atlantic Coalition for Housing Opportunities at 1-717-762-9139.

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