The Lycoming County Council of Commissioners approved funding for housing programs through STEP and also funded a Habitat for Humanity project at its recent meeting.
STEP provides eligible residents with funds to make repairs to their homes and get help paying rent.
The four STEP programs approved by the Commissioners included the Urgent Needs program, $ 25,000; supportive housing program, $ 265,000; Homes in Need program, $ 225,000; and the Grand Habitat for Humanity program, $ 63,000. All programs are budget items.
Commissioner Tony Mussare questioned whether funding for the Homes in Need program was less than in previous years.
“These are generally houses where old people live who are within a certain household income”, Mussare said of those who would be most affected by the funding cut. “I know how beneficial this has been for many seniors. “
Jenny Picciano, community development manager and senior planner in the Lycoming County Planning and Community Development Department, told Mussare that in 2019 the amount was $ 300,000 and for 2020 it was $ 250,000. .
“It has fluctuated in the past. I think last year it was a little less because more money was allocated to the supportive housing program given the need for this type of service ”, she said.
“We must be very careful not to remove this program”, said Mussare. “I know a lot of seniors have taken advantage of this program, and if you say it went from $ 300,000 to $ 225,000 in three years, that’s a substantial amount of money.”
Picciano noted that funding for these programs, through the Pennsylvania Housing Rehabilitation and Accessibility Improvement Fund, comes from Marcellus Shale’s activity in the state. She said it went down as well.
While the goal of the programs is to help homeowners stay in their homes, the funding available through the programs also keeps properties on the tax roll.
Rachelle Abbott, operations and planning manager for STEP, noted that the county’s housing stock is old and many homes were built in the 1950s and 1960s. Many are also occupied by older residents. She added that even with the funding approved by the Commissioners, the “The need is still great. “
“It is an investment to modernize and many elderly people do not have the means” Abbott said.
By helping individuals to repair, “It really keeps the houses stabilized so that they do not get damaged” she said, which could affect the resale value.
Abbott noted that there are currently 700 homeowners on a waiting list who qualify for home repairs.
Other points approved by the commissioners during their meeting on Tuesday included
• A resolution for the donation of surplus goods to the police department of the borough of Muncy. Mya Toon, the county’s purchasing manager, told commissioners the property included lights.
• The contract with the Center County Correctional Facility for the accommodation of inmates. It has been noted that the rate remains at $ 65 per day. Currently, there are four women in Center County.
• An amendment to adjust the labor rate to the professional service contract with Bestline. According to Jason Yorks, director of county resource management services, this would be an adjustment to a 2016 contract with Bestline for servicing equipment purchased from them.
Under Personnel, the Board approved the following replacements at the indicated compensation levels: Joseph C. Ruby, Law Clerk II, $ 54,178, effective October 3; Sue Berkheiser, Resident Supervisor / Cook, $ 15.60 per hour, effective September 19; and Paige Emerick, resident supervisor, $ 15.37 per hour, effective September 20. They also approved Kevin S. Styer, full-time administrative change, relieves correctional officers, at $ 17.46 per hour, effective September 14.
Commissioners encouraged county residents to visit the county’s interactive website, Lyco.org, and click on the newly added authorities and councils section to apply for the positions listed.
A proclamation for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month was read by Commissioners.
The next meeting will be on September 21 at 10 a.m. in the Board Room, Executive Plaza, 330 Pine St.