Hilltop Alliance continues work in Allentown with second NPP
January 18, 2022
In early November 2021, two Hilltop organizations received word their applications for Neighborhood Partnership Programs (NPP) through the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) had been approved.
The Hilltop programs will be funded at $650,000 per year for six years: $250,000 per year for the Hilltop Alliance to work in Allentown and $400,000 per year for six years for the Hilltop Economic Development Corporation to work in Mt. Oliver Borough and Knoxville. This is the second NPP in each area.
The NPPs, which fall under the DCED’s Neighborhood Assistance Program, offer corporate tax liability credit in exchange for contributing to neighborhood revitalization. A minimum contribution of at least $100,000 is needed for the NPP and can be in provided at a minimum of $50,000 per business, up to a maximum of $500,000 per year. In turn, businesses receive either a 75% or 80% tax credit per year for a commitment of five or six years.
Aaron Sukenik, executive director of the Hilltop Alliance (HA), explained there was a one-year break between their first and second NPPs due to COVID. The pandemic had diminished the desirability of tax credit programs for businesses in 2020-2021.
In Allentown, similar to the first NPP, HA will partner with The Brashear Association to provide services at the Neighborhood Employment Center (NEC) on E. Warrington Avenue. Mr. Sukenik said among the services that will be provided will be resume building, job search and interview preparation, along with general casework services.
In a change from previous years, the 2022 program will focus less on attracting new businesses to Allentown and will instead emphasize helping existing businesses to thrive and grow.
When the first NPP began in 2014, the Allentown businesses district had a vacancy rate of more than 40%. Today, the business corridor vacancy rate is around 5%. “A very healthy rate by most business standards” according to Mr. Sukinek.
The Alliance plans to provide technical assistance and act as a facilitator between businesses and the City of Pittsburgh and the Urban Redevelopment Authority to access assistance programs. They will also be hosting at least four special events each year to attract community members and visitors to the business district.
Through the NPP, Hilltop Alliance staff will continue to operate their Property Stabilization and Emergency Stabilization programs. Under the Emergency Stabilization Program, homeowners at or below 80% of the Area Median Income can quality for up to $5,000 in home repairs. For more information on the program, Mr. Sukenik said to contact Jeph Martin at 412-586-5807 ext. 3 or email@example.com.
Mr. Martin is also the contact for the Property Stabilization Program, a program to head off property code violations before they reach the city for enforcement.
Food security is also a segment of their work in the NPP. The Fresh Fridays on the Hilltop free monthly food distribution of a pre-boxed array of food items will continue using a grab and go model.
Mr. Sukinek said the demand is still considerably higher with the program now serving 250 to 300 predominately Hilltop families and individuals. In addition, there is also a Senior Box Program operating with food boxes delivered to Hilltop senior citizens.
For more information on the Hilltop Alliance’s food programs, or information on other food pantries in the area, contact Mr. Martin.
The Hilltop Alliance is also working to build 31 new homes on 33 vacant properties, lots and houses, in Allentown east of Arlington Avenue. The new houses will be a $12 million plus investment in the neighborhood.
In addition, they are working on five homes to be rehabbed for resale in other parts of the neighborhood and are a result of the 2020 update to the Allentown Housing Strategy. Mr. Sukenik said it takes a long time to acquire properties for rehab, that it’s a slow process, but “we’re going to keep it going.”
Business partners contributing to the Hilltop Alliance’s current NPP are PNC Bank, Dollar Bank and UPMC Health Plan.
More information will be coming in a future issue on the HEDC NPP.