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Town house application approved by county

December 15, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - An application for $331,779 to build seven town houses for low- and moderate-income residents in Mont Alto, Pa., was approved Tuesday by the Franklin County Commissioners.

The Mid-Atlantic Coalition for Housing Opportunities Inc., or MACHO, is seeking the money to build the two- and three-bedroom, two-story town houses on Verdier West, Dan Wolfe of the county Planning Office said during Tuesday's public hearing.

The application must be approved by the state Department of Community and Economic Development, Wolfe said.

The funding is through the federal HOME Investment Partnership Program that distributes money for affordable housing projects to the states.

"It gives an opportunity to people who basically can't afford rent" to become homeowners, said Doris Thrailkill, the executive secretary for MACHO. She said renting a house or apartment can be more expensive than monthly mortgage payments, but people with low incomes cannot get traditional financing.

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The town houses MACHO plans to build will sell for $105,000, with approved buyers having to repay an $85,000 federal loan. Approved buyers also will receive a $20,000 loan from the state toward the purchase, with half of that loan forgiven if they remain in the home for 10 years, Wolfe said.

MACHO has 15 qualified applicants on the waiting list for the homes in Mont Alto, Thrailkill said. In addition to meeting income guidelines, she said potential buyers also must have good credit histories.

Getting all the approvals to proceed with the project could take up to a year, she said.

Since 1998, MACHO has built 66 of a planned 75 low-income housing units in the Sheffield Manor development outside Waynesboro, Pa., in Washington Township, Thrailkill said.

The planned development in Mont Alto fits in with the county's comprehensive plan, which calls for affordable housing in boroughs and villages with existing utilities to support development, Commissioner G. Warren Elliott said.

"It's all about building community," said Commissioner Cheryl Plummer. The more people who own their homes, the healthier the community, she said.

Of the approximately 54,000 housing units in the county, almost 70 percent are owner-occupied, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures, Wolfe said.

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