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Money tight for Housing Trust Fund

February 19, 2009|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Franklin County's Housing Trust Fund will have less money to work with in 2009, another byproduct of the recession and its accompanying slumps in real estate and new home construction.

Money from the trust fund comes from a $13 fee charged for each deed and mortgage filed in the county, said Dan Wolfe, a community planner with the County Planning Department. In 2007, those fees brought in $144,000, down from $218,000 in 2007.

Money from the fund can be used for housing rehabilitation, affordable housing programs and down payment assistance, among other things, Wolfe said. The Planning Department recommended $100,000 go to the county's own housing rehabilitation program, he said.

The program, administered by the South Central Community Action Program, has been able to replace furnaces, fix roofs and make other emergency repairs to 25 to 30 homes per year, Wolfe said.

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"Next year, I don't know if we'll be able to help that many people," Wolfe said.

Valley Community Housing requested $10,000 for a first-time homeowners assistance program and the department recommended it receive $7,500, Wolfe said.

The Elm Street program itself requested $15,000 for a program aimed at converting some rental properties in the Third Ward to owner-occupied housing. Wolfe recommended the program receive $5,000.

Helping Hands with Hearts, a group of retired volunteers from the Penn National Development, requested $10,000 for its work, which includes light handicapped ramps and light rehabilitation to homes, Wolfe said. The group works with senior citizens referred to it by the county's Area Agency on Aging and other agencies, he said.

Wolfe said the department recommended $2,500 for Helping Hands for 2009.

The Chambersburg Project was recommended to receive $5,000 for its one-week housing rehabilitation camp, Wolfe said. The group, which did repairs to more than 40 homes last summer, was asking for $20,000, he said.

The Board of County Commissioners approved the recommendations of the Planning Department. The county will keep $21,600 to administer the program and will have $2,371 left over in the fund for contingencies.

The board also approved giving $2,500 in unspent funds from last year to Indian Lake Camp Corp. near Fannettsburg, Pa., to cover a shortfall caused by some residents not paying their water bills.

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