WASHINGTON, D.C. – August 12, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has allocated more than $1 million to the McKeesport Housing Authority for large-scale improvements to its public housing units.
The grant, announced on Friday, is through HUD’s Capital Fund Program, which awards funding annually to all public housing authorities to build, repair, renovate and/or modernize public housing.
McKeesport is one of many public housing authorities in the state to receive the funds as part of HUD’s overall disbursement of $117.4 million. The city authority’s portion is $1,672,176. Funds are projected to be available by early September.
Authority executive director Stephen Bucklew said the grant will be used in conjunction with $10 million the authority expects to generate by leveraging $1.2 million in low-income tax credits, obtained from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, to replace 204 demolished units in the Yester Square section of Crawford Village with 68 new units.
Ten of those 68 units are under construction, and about 20 of those units will be handicapped accessible and compliant with the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards.
“When you spread those units out over the same amount of ground, there’s going to be less units because the handicapped units take up more ground space,” Bucklew said.
The 204 old units were demolished in 2008 and 2009.
Bucklew said most of Crawford Village’s buildings were designed in a warehouse style in the late 1930s and ’40s, and did not offer much space.
“They were sort of obsolete and outdated,” he said. “It was easier to knock them down and rebuild than to try and make those two-story units handicapped compliant.”
MHA will solicit proposals for 58 units within the next few months, and likely select a contractor by the end of the year with construction starting in March. The 10 units being built should be completed in less than two months.
The new units will have more closet space and room between neighbors.
“Today’s construction standards are much better,” Bucklew said. “You give people more privacy … It should be a nice community after we get this done.”
Crawford Village will have a total of 416 units serving approximately 1,500 people once all 68 units are completed.
“This funding is critical for housing authorities to maintain and improve public housing conditions for their residents,” said HUD secretary Shaun Donovan. “However, with a significant repair backlog, I am encouraged by new, innovative long-term solutions HUD is exploring that can be combined with this funding to not only protect and preserve this housing for the next generation, but to also build the quality infrastructure necessary for families to thrive.”
“Housing authorities in Pennsylvania count on this funding to maintain and improve their public housing for families, especially the most vulnerable — our seniors,” said Jane C.W. Vincent, HUD’s regional administrator of the mid-Atlantic region. “HUD is currently taking bold steps to preserve this affordable housing.”
Capital Fund grants are awarded each year to the nation’s approximately 3,100 public housing agencies through a formula that considers number, type and age of units in a community. Eligible uses for the funding include development, financing and modernization of the public housing units as well as management improvements at the public housing authority.
The Capital Fund disbursement brings this year’s HUD money allocations to the McKeesport Housing Authority to $1,922,176.
By Michael DiVittorio
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