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Posted on: March 12, 2015

Westmoreland County announces homeownership program

Greensburg, Pa., The Westmoreland County Board of Commissioners and the Westmoreland County Land Bank announced the creation of a new program and partnership for homeownership today. $160,000 was secured from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) through the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement (PHARE) fund, while the county’s Affordable Housing Trust invested an additional $150,000 through Act 137 – generating $310,000 for the program. The Westmoreland County Department of Planning & Development has entered into an agreement with the Westmoreland County Land Bank (WCLB) and the Westmoreland County Housing Authority in order to successfully implement this program.

“It is important for programs like this one to be available for young folks in our community thinking about starting a family,” said Charles Anderson, County Commissioner. “We are trying to help out those young people get a leg-up in the world and start things out on the right foot while eliminating blight at the same time. It just makes a lot of sense.”

This program is designed to assist homebuyers, including first time homebuyers, attain their goal of homeownership. The Land Bank will acquire vacant homes and rehabilitate those properties to be sold to income-eligible households. Those households who are deemed eligible may be provided financial assistance for down payment as well as closing costs associated with purchasing a home - mortgage assistance may be available. Putting these previously vacant properties back on the tax rolls will also be a tax generator.

“What this program does is gives the opportunity to those who may be on the fence about buying a home a little extra incentive to be property owners,” said Tyler Courtney, County Commissioner. “Generally buying a home is a sound investment and does wonders for the community when previously vacant houses are rehabilitated for a family’s use.”

The Land Bank will be responsible for seeking out and acquiring suitable properties for this program. These houses will come from sources such as the County tax repository, donation of property, and/or tax foreclosures. The Housing Authority will be responsible for inspecting and assessing the properties to provide the Land Bank a scope of services and budget for each individual project. The Land Bank will then obtain and evaluate bids, oversee project progress, and then identify a realtor to sell the homes post rehabilitation. Five houses are expected to be rehabilitated through this process in the first year, with plans to submit for PHARE funding requests in the future to insure the program becomes self-sustaining.

“This program shows how multiple agencies can work together in order to make our community a better place to live,” said Ted Kopas, County Commissioner. “The newly formed Land Bank is already making a noticeable difference in the county, and with this program, continues to make a positive impact.”

The program is specific to benefit those specifically between 60% and 200% of the area median income (AMI). The current AMI for a family of four is $65,600. The program would be implemented in the 12 targeted municipalities that have agreed to participate in Westmoreland County’s Land Bank. These communities include Latrobe, Greensburg, Jeannette, West Newton, Youngwood, Sewickley, Scottdale, Mt. Pleasant Borough, Mt. Pleasant Township, Irwin, Derry Borough, and South Greensburg. It should also be noted that any additional community that becomes part of the Land Bank will become eligible for the program.

# # #

Westmoreland County Department
of Planning & Development
Contact Person: Terri A. Yurcisin, Deputy Director
Tel: 724-830-3615
Fax: 724-830-3611
www.co.westmoreland.pa.us

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