Nonprofit plans to put affordable housing in blighted area of Latrobe |
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Jeff Himler

Greensburg nonprofit Homes Build Hope is seeking approval from Latrobe and funding from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency to replace a dozen vacant, dilapidated homes along Latrobe’s Mary Street with new, affordable housing.

Project representatives told council Monday that they plan to upgrade the blighted area along Loyalhanna Creek by constructing 20 new housing units, including nine duplexes and two single-family dwellings.

Scott Moore estimated the project could cost about $7 million, including $5 million to construct the dwellings in a modern Victorian style.

Moore said Homes Build Hope intends to submit a preliminary application next month to the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency for tax credit financing and, with appropriate city approvals, intends to follow with a formal application by Sept. 8. He said the nonprofit should know next spring if the financing will be approved.

“PHFA tax credits are extremely competitive,” said Chad Ruffner, retired director of Homes Build Hope. He noted the nonprofit has alternate plans for funding if need be.

Once funding is secured, it should take four to six months to get final drawings and engineering approved, Moore said. Construction is expected to take 14 months, he said.

City officials said Homes Build Hope will need a conditional-use zoning approval for the new home construction and a variance for three homes that will be short of the minimum 25-foot backyard setback from the creek. In addition, the city must maintain access to Unity Run, which enters the creek near the homes.

Moore said some of the area will need to be raised by as much as 2 feet to meet flood plain requirements. Also, 1.5 off-street parking spaces are to be provided for each of the 20 housing units.

Chairman Don Albert said the city planning commission favors the project provided it receives other needed approvals.

“Thanks for doing this,” Mayor Rosie Wolford told the project spokesmen. “This will be a real benefit to the neighborhood and the city as a whole.”

Ruffner said some of the homes apparently were placed in the neighborhood about 30 years ago but have remained vacant.

City manager Wayne Jones said the buildings were donated by the owner to the Westmoreland County Land Bank, which would raze the structures to clear room for the proposed new housing.

Homes Build Hope completed a similar housing revitalization along nearby Lloyd Avenue in 2005, Ruffner said.

In other business, Jones reported Victor Paving submitted an apparent low bid of $99,024.30 for paving sections of Chestnut, Hamilton and Main streets. Council will take action at a future meeting

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

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