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Franklin County to seek housing grant

June 05, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - More affordable housing in Washington Township, Pa., could be on the way if the state approves the Franklin County Commissioners' application for funding.

The commissioners are applying for a $550,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development on behalf of the Mid-Atlantic Coalition for Housing Opportunities Inc. of Waynesboro.

Through this partnership, the county and MACHO have received funds since 1996 to subsidize construction of 50 townhouses for low-income residents.

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The application, which the commissioners approved Tuesday, would allow for 16 more homes to be built on Picadilly Circle in the Sheffield Manor community.

So far, 37 units on Kings Road have been sold, and applications are being considered on several others that are built or near completion, said Jo Willard, a housing counselor with MACHO.

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

"We're taking calls daily. The need is there," Willard said.

In the last three years, more than 400 people have applied for consideration for MACHO homes, she said.

If an applicant's credit is not good, Willard works with the applicant to help resolve the problem. Sometimes it can be fixed quickly, sometimes it takes as long as a year to sort out, she said.

The homeowners are a mix of mostly single mothers and married couples with children. In all, 53 children live there, according to Willard.

Before moving into the homes, the residents were all living with family or in rental arrangements and could not afford to become homeowners without the program.

Through the program, there is no down payment and closing costs are paid by MACHO.

Home buyers receive a grant of $16,000, of which half is forgiven over a 10-year period, and assume a $74,000 low-interest mortgage through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Home Ownership Program.

The USDA will provide nearly $1.3 million for the project.

It could take more than a year for DCED to approve the application, so construction on the units will not begin for a while, Willard said.

Now, the 10 units approved with a 2001 grant are under construction, with four nearing completion.

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

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