Three Lehigh Valley projects funded; first units in Overlook Park dedicated
ALLENTOWN, PA, October 29, 2007 – U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15) presented $1 million in grants provided by two local banks to three area housing projects today. He joined Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and regional housing, community development and banking leaders at an event honoring the recipients and opening the first two phases of Allentown Housing Authority’s Overlook Park project.
The grants will help fund a total of 95 rental units at Overlook Park and the Bethlehem Affordable Housing project sponsored by Bethlehem YMCA in addition to 27 homes for purchase by lower-income families at Habitat for Humanity’s Minsi Ridge project in Bethlehem. The grants were awarded by Keystone Nazareth Bank and Lafayette Ambassador Bank, who participate in the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh’s Affordable Housing Program.
Congressman Dent presented the grants as Allentown Housing Authority officially christened phases one and two of Overlook Park, the former Hanover Acres/Riverview Terrace public housing project that the housing authority and developer Pennrose Properties are converting into 269 units of affordable rental housing and 53 homeownership units. With today’s grand opening, two of the four rental phases of the project are now complete. Owner-occupied units and a community center will round out the project. Seventy-nine families now live at Overlook Park.
“The availability of affordable housing has increasingly become a concern, and therefore a priority in the Lehigh Valley,” Congressman Dent said. “Projects like Overlook Park, Minsi Ridge and the YMCA housing units in Bethlehem are providing families with a stable foundation to further develop necessary job skills and education. I thank the partners with us today who are making this a reality.”
“Overlook Park’s mix of public housing, affordable and market-rate homeownership is creating a true mixed-income neighborhood that helps residents experience safety and community stability while creating wealth through home equity,” Mayor Pawlowski said. “Catholic Charities’ role in providing counseling to both renters and homeowners is also helpful in ensuring that residents have the skills and resources they need to put their families on the road to increased self-sufficiency.”
“The leadership of Keystone Nazareth and Lafayette Ambassador Bank ensured that these funds, awarded on a competitive basis across three states, are being presented in the Lehigh Valley,” stated FHLBank Chief Operating Officer William G. Batz. “As a government sponsored enterprise, created by Congress 75 years ago, we are excited about the opportunity to appear today with Congressman Dent, a real champion of homeownership and affordable housing and to provide these grants.”
At today’s grand opening ceremonies, Congressman Dent presented a $300,000 Affordable Housing Program grant to Overlook Park for the third phase of its rental program, a $150,000 grant to Bethlehem Affordable Housing and a $500,000 grant to Minsi Ridge.
Bethlehem Affordable Housing represents a major upgrade of YMCA housing in a certified area of blight. The Y’s approximately 60-year-old building is undergoing substantial rehabilitation, with 56 stark-looking units being converted into space for 35 air-conditioned units with elevator access on each floor. Residents will enjoy access to the Y’s programs including day care and a swimming pool, and several area organizations will provide onsite counseling in life skills, employment training and money management.
Minsi Ridge, being developed in the reemerging South Bethlehem area, is designed to address the budgets of working families in an escalating housing market. Located on a 16-acre site, of which nearly 12 acres will be conserved as open space, Minsi Ridge will feature 27 three-bedroom homes targeted to families at 35-50 percent of the area median income. As in every Habitat project, homebuyers must contribute “sweat equity” prior to occupancy. Mortgages will carry zero percent interest.
A variety of public, private and nonprofit resources support each of the three projects receiving grants today. Of special note is the role of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. PHFA awarded Overlook Park $1.19 million in financing and $1.10 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits. Bethlehem Affordable Housing received $990,000 of PHFA PennHOMES funding and $212,469 in tax credits.
Chartered by Congress in 1932, FHLBank Pittsburgh serves the needs of 332 member-owner financial institutions in Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. It provides them with a steady stream of liquidity for housing finance, community and economic development and other needs. FHLBank is wholly funded with private capital, not taxpayer dollars. At June 30, 2007, FHLBank Pittsburgh had approximately $82 billion in assets.