Awards for affordable rental housing total more than $92 million

Awards totaling more than $44.2 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits, more than $20 million in National Housing Trust Funds for the construction of 1,459 affordable multifamily rental units in Pennsylvania, and more than $9 million in PennHOMES funding, were announced by Gov. Tom Wolf Thursday. 

This is the first year the agency is announcing awards for the new Pennsylvania housing tax credit totaling more than $19.3 million in state credits. The federal and state tax credits were approved by the board and administered by the PHFA. 

“The funding we award today will have a significant impact by adding 1,459 affordable rental units once construction is completed,” Wolf said in a statement. “In all communities across the state, affordable housing is in great demand, which is why the allocation of this funding is important for addressing that need.” 

Developments receiving funding will preserve and create an additional 1,518 total rental units, including 1,459 for low-income Pennsylvania residents, with 123 units for people at or below 30 percent of the area median income supported by the National Housing Trust Funds. 

PHFA Executive Director and CEO Robin Wiessmann said tax credits are important as they fill a void in the marketplace for the construction of affordable housing. 

“Even before the pandemic there was clear demand for more rental housing that fits people’s budgets. That demand is even stronger today, and this new round of tax credits, plus the additional funding, are vital for creating and rehabilitating much-needed affordable housing.” 

The 33 multifamily housing developments being awarded for tax credits can be viewed on the PHFA site at https://www.phfa.or/mhp/. Please see the list of tax credit recipients under “News: 2022” and dated 11/10.

Bethlehem, Easton-area projects get $18M in redevelopment money

Seven projects in the Lehigh Valley were awarded nearly $18 million from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, legislators reported this week.

State Sens. Lisa Boscola and Pat Browne and state Rep. Steve Samuelson announced $13.6 million in RACP funding to three redevelopment projects in the City of Bethlehem: The ArtsQuest Turn and Grind Shop, $7 million; the Steel General Office Building, $5.5 million; and the Machine Shop at Lehigh Heavy Forge, $1.1 million.

The ArtsQuest Turn and Grind Shop project is an adaptive reuse of the abandoned Bethlehem Steel Corp. plant to support programming entertainment, cultural attractions, science and kindred displays.

The Steel General Office project funding is for demolition and abatement of portions of the building.

And Lehigh Heavy Forge, a supplier of ultra-large, forged components essential to national defense, will use the grant for its Machine Shop Upenders project.

The Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program is used for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historical improvement projects.

Boscola and Browne also announced $4.35 million in RACP funding for four other redevelopment projects in the region.

The Easton 185 South 3rd Street Confluence project ($3 million) money will be for construction of a 183-space parking garage and podium to spur the development of three mixed-use buildings. A pedestrian bridge is proposed to connect residents and visitors with the Easton Transportation Center garage.

Treatment Trends Inc. ($500,000) will use the grant funds toward the cost of demolition and renovation of the property at 110 Main St. in West Easton. The building is in need of a new roof and sealing of exterior brick and windows, which will be completed prior to beginning the interior work.

Portland Power Plant, Upper Mount Bethel Township, will allocate its $500,000 grant toward remediation and asbestos removal as well as demolition of one of the decommissioned boilers on the site.

Hangdog ($350,000) is an outdoor entertainment venue in Easton to include the largest adventure ropes course on the East Coast, with a brewery and food garden. The project involves improving a 3.7-acre parcel that has been acquired by a related entity, allowing for

erecting the aerial attraction and beer garden, including bringing the stormwater maintenance up to zoning requirements.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

PennDOT to distribute $171.5 million in funding for electric vehicle charging

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) will receive and distribute $171.5 million in formula funds for electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure over the next five years as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). Funding for National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) in the first federal fiscal year is $25,4 million, and grantees will be required to provide a minimum 20 percent match.

Resources are available to help businesses and organizations to prepare in advance of the NEVI Notice of Funding Opportunity, PennDOT announced. The funding opportunity is expected to be announced in late December 2022 or early January 2023.

PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian said the NEVI program will help Pennsylvania build out its EV charging infrastructure.

“As this is a new program for Pennsylvania and the nation at large,” said Gramian, “we want to give our partners and businesses as much opportunity as possible to prepare for application submission to support our efforts of transparency and equity.”

Information regarding applicant eligibility, eligible projects, and costs both eligible and ineligible is included in the NEVI Grant pre-announcement resources. An interactive map identifying existing AFC-qualifying stations and grouped interchanges based on priority through a gap analysis has also been created by PennDOT. Businesses and organizations seeking recommendations on preparing for the grant opening can review the “How to Get Ready” section on PennDOT’s website.

An informational webinar on the 2022 NEVI Grant Program will be hosted by PennDOT on Tuesday, November 1, 2022, from 10 AM to noon. Aimed at audiences interested in applying for the NEVI grant program, the webinar will provide information on eligibility, types of projects funded, how to apply, eligible and non-eligible costs, and application best practices.

NEVI stakeholder sessions featuring an opportunity to expand professional connections and partnership are being held across the state. Individuals interested in the sessions can register on PennDOT’s “Learn About NEVI” webpage.

As Pennsylvania has more than 1,800 miles of designated Alternative Fuel Corridors (AFC), NEVI grant funding will support both the commonwealth and federal goal of expanding EV charging along AFCs and interstate lookalikes. NEVI formula funds must first be used to build out AFCs and meet U.S. DOT standards and requirements, per guidance from U.S. DOT.

Pennsylvania’s traveler information system – 511PA – includes EV charging station locations on its traffic map. This system is designed to enhance traveler information for EV drivers and lists locations across the commonwealth by connector type, including CCS, J1722, CHAdeMO, Tesla, and NEMA.

Individuals interested in additional information on NEVI funds in Pennsylvania or reviewing PennDOT’s announcement resources can visit the PennDOT website at penndot.pa.gov.

Reading nonprofits to get more than $4.8M in ARPA funds

At a special meeting Tuesday, Reading City Council approved the allocation of more than $4.8 million in American Rescue Plan funding to 21 nonprofit organizations.

Here are the recipients, from minutes of the meeting posted online:

• Berks Community Health Center, $400,000;

• Berks History Center, $20,000;

• Berks Latino Chamber of Commerce, $200,000;

• CARE Inc., $200,000;

• Centro Hispano of Reading and Berks County, $500,000;

• GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, $500,000;

• Habitat for Humanity of Berks County, $500,000;

• Hope Rescue Mission, $500,000;

• I-LEAD, $200,000;

• Olivet Boys & Girls Club of Reading & Berks County, $404,500;

• Neighborhood Housing Service, $200,000;

• New Journey Community Outreach, $125,000;

• Million Youth Chess Club, $5,820;

• Prospectus Berco, $200,000;

• Reading Pride Celebration, $50,000;

• Reading Symphony Orchestra, $100,000;

• The Real Deal, 610, $50,000;

• Salvation Army, $100,000;

• Star City Boxing Co., $215,963;

• The Village of Reading, $143,600;

• YMCA of Reading and Berks County, $200,000.

The American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021, to provide direct relief to cities, towns and villages in the U.S. In Pennsylvania, ARPA has allocated $6.15 billion to counties, cities and local government units to support COVID-19 response efforts, replace lost revenue, support economic stabilization for households and businesses, and address public health and economic challenges.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Central Pa., Lehigh Valley airport projects get state money 

Five airports in central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley were among the recipients of $10 million total in state investments, announced Monday by Gov. Tom Wolf, through the Aviation Transportation Assistance Program. 

Overall, funds were earmarked for 12 projects at 10 airports. 

“Aviation plays a vital role in keeping our state’s economy moving,” Wolf said in a release. “These investments will help Pennsylvania’s airports operate safely, expand to meet current demands, and sustain growth well into the future.” 

Approved aviation projects included: 

  • Berks County, Reading Regional/Carl A. Spaatz Field – $3 million for air operations hangar complex infrastructure to accommodate the growth of an existing airport tenant.
  • Cumberland County, Carlisle Airport – $524,000 for design and construction of a terminal building to further continued economic development.
  • Lancaster County, Lancaster Airport – $750,000 to complete corporate hangar infrastructure to accommodate the growth of an existing airport tenant and provide space for a new operation relocating there.
  • Lehigh County, Lehigh Valley International Airport – $1.76 million to continue terminal connector and security checkpoint expansion and to enhance terminal commercial development connectivity.
  • York County, Capital City Airport – $150,000 for rehabilitation of airfield hangar roofs and structural reinforcement to repair rusted sheeting.

Pennsylvania cities to receive part of $617 million in federal public transit funding 

Pennsylvania’s public transportation projects are set to receive $617 million in federal funding in 2022. 

The funding is a result of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and will be administered by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). U.S. Senator Bob Casey announced the total funding this week. 

“From our biggest cities to our rural communities, Pennsylvanians across the commonwealth rely on public transportation every day,” said Casey. “Thanks to the infrastructure law, Pennsylvania’s public transit systems will see more than $617 million in a single year to provide faster, safer and more convenient service to their communities.” 

The funding can be used to upgrade vehicles, improve facilities and make public transport more accessible for seniors and people with disabilities, added Casey. 

The first portion of the funding for Pennsylvania infrastructure was first announced in early February and totaled $234 million. With the passing of the federal spending bill by Congress, that amount is now $617,500,008. 

Some of the cities receiving funding through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the funds they are set to receive include: Allentown, $12.7 million; Harrisburg, $14.3 million; Lancaster, $25 million; Reading, $5.5 million; and York, $4.9 million. 

Pennsylvania communities will also be able to compete for a $1.75 billion grant program to improve accessibility at rail stations through the All Station Accessibility Program Act, which was incorporated into the federal infrastructure law.