Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: $450,000 in funding to benefit Erie affordable housing, blight reduction projects

ERIE, July 12 – Erie County projects to expand affordable housing and reduce blight will receive $450,000 through the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement fund, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, announced today.

“This funding is critically important for members of our community in need of housing – particularly those who may be homeless or struggling to make ends meet,” Harkins said. “It’s especially good to know that our efforts to help secure funding were successful because the organizations benefiting, such as Mercy Center for Women, do such vital work in helping residents regain productive lives.”

Bizzarro agreed, noting that projects to expand affordable housing are good for the community on multiple levels.

“These projects will not only expand affordable housing options for the working families of Erie, they will create jobs and spur increased economic activity,” Bizzarro said. “The projects will open doors for residents in so many ways.”

Merski pointed out that the funding will also bolster efforts to revitalize vacant, blighted areas. 

“It’s great to see part of this funding go toward breathing life back into blighted, vacant areas of our community,” Merski said. “During my years on city council, I drafted the ordinance creating the city land bank for this very purpose. With this funding, the land bank can work to restore circulation to areas that have been cut off and, in the process, rejuvenate not just the immediate area but those surrounding it, which will benefit from increased business and community activity. It’s going to be exciting to see the progress these projects accomplish.”

The projects – all funded by realty transfer tax revenue – include the following:

  • $300,000 to GMA Development Group LLC for Aaron Michael’s Place – Royal homes;
  • $100,000 to the Erie Land Bank for City of Erie Blight Reduction; and
  • $50,000 to Mercy Center for Women for the Doorways Collaborative.

The PHARE fund is managed by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. Funding comes from three main sources: a portion of the impact fees collected from natural gas companies operating in Pennsylvania to address the housing shortage caused by the impact of drilling, a portion of the realty transfer tax, and money from the National Housing Trust Fund.

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