Program sees several revisions

Necessary revisions have been made to a competitive program contract and the county's Housing Rehabilitation Program."The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development's [DCED] HOME Investment Partnership Program, in this case the Community Development Block Grant [CDBG] Competitive Program, is the Commonwealth's primary vehicle to provide affordable housing in Pennsylvania's communities," said Richard Gavazzi, housing specialist for Elk County's planning department. "The creation of affordable housing options and opportunities are essential to the health and welfare of many families, as well as to the economic wellbeing of the local residents of Elk County as a whole."Elk County's Housing Rehabilitation Program is a flexible financial tool for housing activities that promote community stability by creating additional housing rehabilitation opportunities."HOME and/or the CDBG funds can be used in a variety of ways," Gavazzi said. However, the Elk County Rehabilitation Program provides assistance to owner-occupied households."Homeownership creates economic prosperity for communities and families and acts as a dynamic generator of economic growth," Gavazzi said. "Increased housing starts and homeownership sales often represent renewed economic confidence in communities."The rehabilitation program assists local communities in promoting income diversity by providing support for mixed-income modifications."According to Gavazzi, these activities can create environments that enhance both economic and social empowerment."In an effort to better serve the residents of Elk County and provide the necessary home rehabilitation modifications, Elk County, as the administering agent, in fiscal year 2010, procured $500,000 through the Pennsylvania DCED, HOME Investment Partnership Grant Program/Community Development Block Grant Program," Gavazzi said.The procurement of grant funding was necessary to sustain the success of the Elk County Housing Rehabilitation Program and provide vital rehabilitation modifications within the county.County representatives initially proposed to provide housing rehabilitation assistance to a minimum of 22 owner-occupied residences; the offer was available to all county residents who met the set eligibility requirements with the exception of the Borough of Ridgway and the City of St. Marys. Those areas appropriate their own HOME housing rehabilitation funds."As outlined in the initial proposed budget, $448,000 of the $500,000 requested was specifically for rehabilitation modifications," Gavazzi said. "It was anticipated that 22 projects could have been completed at an average cost of $20,000 per rehabilitation modification. In addition, $22,000 for project delivery costs such as staff and overhead costs directly related to carrying out the project, and $30,000 for county administration of the grant."However, after further review, revision was necessary."A revised budget revision was needed in order to adequately disburse the specified grant funding for necessary housing rehabilitation," Gavazzi said.The revised budget revision would reportedly include $431,000 of the $500,000 to be directly used for rehabilitation modifications. It is now anticipated that 13 projects can be completed at an average cost of $35,000 per rehabilitation modification."In addition, $39,000 for project delivery costs, again the staff and overhead costs directly related to carrying out the project, and $30,000 for county administration of the grant," Gavazzi said. "The estimated average cost of $35,000 per rehabilitation project includes rehabilitation, lead [paint] rehabilitation, lead inspection delivery, lead clearance delivery and project delivery."The largest part of the budget revision request was due to the fact that the estimated average cost of rehabilitation modifications, along with project delivery costs, exceeded the initial budget proposal.