Allentown homeowners getting help
Two new initiatives around restoring neighborhood properties were the focus of the Allentown Community Development Corporation meeting at the Black Forge Coffee Shop last Monday.
The first initiative aims to rehabilitate tax delinquent properties in the neighborhood and reintroduce them to the market, while the second provides homeowners with funds for facade restoration.
Laura Guralnick, economic development director at the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation (MWCDC), announced her organization will be working closely with the Allentown CDC to identify tax delinquent properties and ‘nuisance homes’ that can be restored through the city’s Land Reserve Program.
The program allows community development organizations to purchase homes from the city and transition them to a real estate developer for rehabilitation. After a two to three year process, the properties are reintroduced to the market.
According to Ms. Guralnick, there are 20 Allentown properties currently in the three year process of the Land Reserve Program.
“It speaks a lot to the quality of the work we’re doing and also the strategy of identifying homes that are in disrepair but in marketable area,” Ms. Guralnick said.
Judy Hackel, vice president of the Allentown CDC, said her organization is partnering with the MWCDC and the Hilltop Alliance because of their past success with the program.
“This isn’t a new rodeo at all for them,” Ms. Hackel said. “So they’re guiding us, helping us, and working with us.”
Ms. Hackel also spoke about the Allentown Facade Improvement Program, an initiative to improve exteriors of homes in the area known as “Grandview South.” The area begins on McClain Street and Beltzhoover Avenue and covers the hillside in front of Grandview Park extending past Allen Street and down to E. Warrington Avenue.
Ms. Hackel said the program will support property owners looking to repair their facades by providing half the repair costs up to a maximum of $5,000. Landlords looking to repair rental properties are eligible to receive half the repair costs up to a maximum of $2,500.
“Now we’re taking the homes that haven’t been maintained as well and now we’re giving them a facelift,” Ms. Hackel said. “Once again with the hope that this continues to improve our neighborhood.”
Individuals at the Hilltop Alliance and Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh are available to help Allentown residents who wish to participate in the program. Those who don’t qualify for the program will be provided counseling about how to seek loans from the Urban Redevelopment Authority.
Residents interested in participating in the program can contact Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh or the Hilltop Alliance to learn more about the process.
Following these discussions, Siena Kane, Allentown business district manager for the Hilltop Alliance, announced a new children’s clothing store is set to open at 748 Warrington Avenue in November.
Ms. Kane also added that the Hilltop Alliance is providing grants for businesses looking to improve signage and lighting.
Josh Lucas, founder of Work Hard Pittsburgh also talked about a new program called Services to the Street. The program will provide between $2,000 and $5,000 worth of technology consulting services, such as website design, to eligible Allentown businesses.
Mr. Lucas also announced that Work Hard Pittsburgh will also be hosting another Startup Weekend on November 20. The event is expected to bring more than 70 people from the tech and entrepreneur community into Allentown to work on new startup businesses.
“We bring all sorts of people up into Allentown for a hundred different reasons,” Mr. Lucas said. “Every time we bring someone up into Allentown it’s an opportunity to have a conversation about how to make it change responsibly, what the opportunity cost is up here and how that’s a value proposition.”
For more information on upcoming events or the Allentown CDC visit http://www.allentowncdc.org/ or their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AllentownCDC.