Shamokin PA

Blight fight gets $200,000

HARRISBURG — The Northumberland County Housing Authority has been awarded a $200,000 grant through the state Department of Community and Economic Development to assist in a continuing blight elimination program, state Sen. John R. Gordner (R-27) and Rep. Kurt A. Masser (R-107) announced Thursday.

The grant will assist the authority continue its countywide “Fight the Blight” initiative. This partnership of local and county officials has been working successfully since 2011 to acquire and demolish or rehabilitate blighted properties with the intention of stabilizing property values and growing the local tax base.

“We have been active and aggressive in combating blight in Northumberland County,” Masser was quoted in a press release. “This grant will allow us to continue to build on that success and move forward with other projects for the good of the residents of the county.”

Previously, the program expended in excess of $1 million to acquire 35 blighted and abandoned properties, with 33 of those being torn down. The remaining two were rehabilitated and re-sold to income-eligible buyers. This new grant will result in additional blighted properties being torn down, cleaned up and placed back on the tax rolls.

“I want to acknowledge and thank Gov. Tom Wolf and the Department of Community and Economic Development for their willingness to partner with us in the fight against blight in our local communities,” said Gordner.

The funds are made available through the Keystone Communities Program, administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development. The program is designed to encourage partnerships between the public and private sectors to jointly support local efforts to stabilize and revitalize neighborhoods and communities.

Housing authority Executive Director Ed Christiano said the grant money will help the authority and municipalities continue the fight against blight “as we continue to be aggressive and work with the communities to improve the housing stock.”

He said the grant will be matched with more than $400,000 in local Community Development Block Grant and Act 137 affordable housing funds and program income from the previous grant.