Reading, PA – February 19, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — Additional hope for first-time homebuyers arrived today with Sovereign Bank delivering yet another grant to the highly successful Our City Reading initiative.
U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach (PA-06) served as keynote speaker at the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts during a lunchtime event at which Our City Reading founder Albert Boscov and other community leaders participated in the presentation of a $250,000 grant, clearing the way for 50 additional properties for first-time homebuyers of limited means.
Today’s grant, from the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLBank) of Pittsburgh’s Affordable Housing Program (AHP), brings to $1.25 million the total amount of grants delivered to Our City Reading by Sovereign Bank, a member of the FHLBank cooperative of local lenders. In all, AHP funds applied for with the assistance of the Wyomissing-based bank have aided in the renovation of 275 units of affordable housing.
“I want to thank Al Boscov and Sovereign Bank for their tremendous commitment to putting homeownership within reach for more families in Reading,” Congressman Gerlach said. “Mr. Boscov and Sovereign have been effective leaders in an effort to transform Reading’s downtown. The renewal and sale of these homes shows that Mr. Boscov and Sovereign are equally dedicated to strengthening neighborhoods and continuing to build on the positive momentum driving Reading’s revitalization efforts,” the congressman added.
The 50 new properties being brought to market by the nine-year-old Our City Reading initiative will include 18 four- and five-bedroom units and 32 three-bedroom units. As with previous rehabilitated properties offered for sale, the goal is to attract low- to moderate-income homebuyers who have been employed at least a year and who have acceptable credit ratings. A key focus is the creation of housing for single parents who are transitioning from welfare to work.
Of the more than 400 properties that Our City Reading has purchased to date, more than 360 have been completed or sold, and about 40 others are in various stages of development. The goal of the group is to renovate at least 70 properties a year.
“Fewer than half the residents of Reading own a home, even though property values have declined steeply, presenting first-time homebuyers with a great opportunity, and presenting the city with a favorable environment in which to reinvent itself,” said retail executive Boscov, Our City Reading’s founder and guiding light. “For nine years, we have been successful in transforming abandoned or aging eyesores into lovingly restored first homes. Hundreds of families have benefited. Our work is far from over,” Boscov said.
“The Federal Home Loan Bank’s Affordable Housing Program exemplifies how community, business and government work together to provide good affordable housing in the city of Reading,” said Joseph E. Schupp, Vice President and Community Development Officer for Sovereign Bank.
Today’s event at GoggleWorks symbolized how various public-private projects in Reading continue to revitalize the city. In less than one decade, Our City Reading, Goggle Works, IMAX, new office and industrial buildings, the planned GoggleWorks apartments and a new 4-star Doubletree Hotel continue to reshape the face of the city, bringing new residents and new businesses downtown while increasing the tax base.
Sovereign Bank, a subsidiary of Banco Santander, S.A., is a financial institution with principal markets in the northeastern United States. Sovereign has more than 700 branches, over 2,300 ATMs and approximately 9,000 team members. For more information on Sovereign Bank, visit http://www.sovereignbank.com or call 877-SOV-BANK.
FHLBank Pittsburgh, a private cooperative of local lenders chartered by Congress, provides a steady stream of low-cost liquidity to financial institutions across Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. FHLBank uses no taxpayer dollars. At September 30, 2009, the Bank had 317 members in its cooperative and approximately $67 billion in assets. Visit http://www.fhlb-pgh.com.