Pennsylvania receives $12M towards affordable housing

Pennsylvania will be receiving more than $12 million in federal funding for affordable housing. 

U.S. Senators Bob Casey, D-PA, and John Fetterman, D-PA, made the announcement Friday that funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would be used to acquire, develop, create and protect affordable housing units n the state to make sure that low-income families have access to safe, clean and suitable housing. 

The funding, which comes from HUD’s Housing Trust Fund, will also help those experiencing homelessness and will be assisting families with relocation. 

 “Housing is not merely a roof over your head. It’s a vital piece of the foundation that builds strong families and thriving communities,” said Casey in a release. “There are too many in Pennsylvania and across our Nation who have been priced out of their homes and their neighborhoods. With this funding, Pennsylvania will be able to preserve and increase the number of affordable housing units, uplift families, spur economic development, and ensure that the most vulnerable among us have fair access to safe and suitable homes.” 

The Housing Trust Fund (HTF) provides grants to states to produce and preserve affordable housing for extremely low- and very low-income households. All HTF-assisted units will be required to have a minimum affordability period of 30 years. 

Da Vinci gets $5.6M loan for Allentown science center project

The Da Vinci Science Center’s plan to build a science and technology learning center in downtown Allentown received a $5.6 million funding boost from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Center officials called the HUD Section 108 loan a major milestone in the project’s development.

“We thank HUD and the City of Allentown for supporting our vision to create a 21st-century science center that will improve access to high-quality STEAM education, drive economic development, and enhance the quality of life for residents of the Lehigh Valley,” Lin Erickson, executive director and CEO of the Da Vinci Science Center said in a release.

The science center, planned for a space on North Eighth Street near the PPL Center, will offer a range of programs focused on school children and their family members.

Allentown Mayor Ray O’Connell said the center will be a good draw to the downtown area.

“The new science center will open-up Da Vinci to tens of thousands of new visitors and expand their mission of bringing science to life and lives to science,” he said. “This project has the potential to be transformative, setting the future direction of our city for decade.”

The project is within the city’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone, which will also help with the project’s funding.

The new center was originally planned as a more than $100 million project along the Waterfront in the City of Easton, but those plans fell through. The main Da Vinci Science Center is on the campus of Cedar Crest College in Allentown.

Bethlehem businesses may apply for $2,000 CDBG grants

Businesses in the City of Bethlehem can apply for $2,000 CDBG grants. PHOTO/FILE –

Businesses within the City of Bethlehem may be eligible for grants from a $300,000 pool of Community Development Block Grant money the city is directing towards COVID-19 aid.

Alicia Miller Karner, director of community development, said the program will provide $2,000 one-time grants to qualifying businesses. Applications will be accepted beginning Wednesday, April 22. The funds can be used for operational expenses such as payroll, utilities or rent.

Miller Karner said a business must be located within the city limits because the money is from a pool of Housing and Urban Development funds directed towards impacting the low and moderate income population. She noted that preference will be given to businesses most impacting that population whether it is supporting customers or employees in that demographic, or located in a low and moderate income neighborhood.

Priority will also be given to businesses in the food and beverage and personal service industries within the central business districts and limited commercial zoning districts.

Miller Karner, however, said she encourages any city business with a need to apply.

“We need the businesses to communicate with us what they need,” she said. “We’re going to do everything we can to help these businesses.”

The city hopes to target small businesses that don’t have any other resources, such as those that weren’t able to get Payroll Protection Program funds or other grants. However, businesses that did obtain PPP funding, are still eligible if the money is needed to help pay for a need not covered by those grants.

“We know that it’s not an easy process,” she said. “We really want to understand the full picture for a business.”

The grants applications can be obtained on the city’s website www.bethlehem-pa.gov and will be reviewed by a committee that will award grants based on funding priorities.

“These are unprecedented times Businesses are struggling and need support,” said Mayor Bob Donchez. “We are fortunate to have funding available to be used towards this program and will continue to craft programs to provide support to our business community.