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Nine groups to share Franklin County housing grants

February 16, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Nine groups that provide affordable housing programs for low- and moderate-income families will share in $200,000 in grants from the Franklin County Housing Trust Fund.

The Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday approved the allocations from the fund, which comes from filing fees for mortgages and deeds. Requests from the nine organizations came to $277,955.

The top recipient was the Franklin County Housing Rehabilitation Program, which was allocated the $50,000 it requested. The money will be used as matching funding to obtain $100,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development's Communities of Opportunity Program.

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Helping Hands with Hearts, a group of retirees, got $39,000 of the $50,000 it requested to purchase materials to renovate and repair the homes of low-income residents. Last year, the group volunteered 400 hours of time to remodel part of a building to become the Cold Weather Drop-In Shelter in Chambersburg, said Vice President Fred Ailes.

Valley Community Housing Corp. received $30,000 of the $50,000 it requested. Executive Director Bonnie Zehler said the money will be used as a local match to obtain up to $6 million in federal and state grants for a 40-unit town house development on nine acres north of Chambersburg in Greene Township.

Zehler said the development will help fill a need for affordable rental housing in the county.

The Chambersburg Project, which rehabilitates the homes of disabled, elderly and low-income homeowners, will get $25,000 this year. The program began as a summer work camp for students, but has expanded to operate throughout the year, according to Director Barb Moran.

"It's a big problem in Franklin County and we're doing it one house at a time," said Moran.

The commissioners approved $10,000 for Interfaith Housing Alliance Inc., a faith-based program that began in Western Maryland and has helped families build 150 homes, according to Warren Spaid, its director of homeownership programs.

"We find folks, hard-working folks, who don't have a lot of money, but they have time," Spaid said. The families work on their own homes and those of others in the program, along with contractors, to build "sweat equity," he said.

Maranatha, another faith-based organization, was granted $24,000 to provide services for clients in its transitional housing program to move into permanent housing.

The Mercersburg (Pa.) Area Youth Organization is getting $9,000 to replace the heating system in its building and the Franklin County Shelter for the Homeless will receive $8,000 for a new heating system, according to the County Planning Department recommendation.

The Mid-Atlantic Coalition for Housing Opportunities will use the $5,000 it receives to help three families pay closing and settlement costs on three new town houses, said Jo Willard, the organization's housing counselor.

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