Longietti, Brooks: Tax credits will provide for $132,000 in funding to address food insecurity, mitigate blight

HERMITAGE, Nov. 18 – Efforts to tackle food insecurity and address blighted areas in Mercer County will receive a boost, thanks to $72,600 in state tax credits that will provide for $132,000 in funding, Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, and state Sen. Michele Brooks, R-Crawford/Mercer/Erie/Warren, announced today.

“These tax credits are going to help area organizations strengthen the reach and power of their current programs by allowing them to do more for the community,” Longietti said. “Tax credits of $55,000 to the Community Action Partnership, for example, will help that organization and the City of Sharon launch the ‘Lots of Love’ pilot program to address blight created by vacant lots when demolished houses are removed.

“Likewise, $17,600 in tax credits to the Community Food Warehouse of Mercer County will enable this important food provider to launch projects tackling two key issues of food insecurity – lack of transportation to food pantries and summer-months hunger, when children are not in school receiving breakfast and lunch meals. Programs funded by these tax credits are going to make a meaningful difference in our community.”

Longietti explained that the $55,000 tax credit will leverage a $100,000 contribution from local businesses to support the Lots of Love project and that the $17,600 tax credit will leverage a $32,000 contribution by local businesses to support the Community Food Warehouse project.

Brooks agreed that the funding would make a tangible impact, noting, “This program builds on the great work being done in our communities across northwestern Pennsylvania. By feeding the hungry and turning formerly blighted space into usable neighborhood assets, we can begin to bring positive change to our residents and regions in need.”

Wilma Torres, CEO of the Community Action Partnership, added, “Both the City of Sharon and Community Action Partnership of Mercer County are excited about this new opportunity to partner with each other, as well as with FNB Bank and UPMC to bring this project to reality. The Lots of Love project will reduce blight within given neighborhoods and establish communal places for individuals and families to congregate as well as give the community an opportunity to give back and for some neighbors to increase their own lots and value of their homes.

“We look forward to working with each other and hope to work on future projects that will benefit the citizens of this county.”

Longietti said this was Mercer County’s first involvement in the Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credit Program and that he and Brooks were greatly assisted in their efforts by the Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce and the recipient organizations.

Chamber director Sherris Moreira said she was pleased that the tax credits would be addressing two important community issues.

“This is such exciting news for our area and is in line with the kinds of collaborative and innovative projects our region is becoming known for,” Moreira said. “Not only will this help tackle some of our blight challenges and help revitalize our neighborhoods, but it has the dual purpose of providing for those dealing with food insecurity. Kudos to everyone that stepped up to partner on this project, which created a definite win-win for the Shenango Valley area!”

The tax credits are part of a $26.5 million package funded through the Neighborhood Assistance Program to promote community participation and collaborations among nonprofits, businesses and residents, while producing outcomes that assist a distressed area or the low-income population in a neighborhood. The credits will support 197 community revitalization projects across the commonwealth.