Neighborhood Allies Names Innovator As First President

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Neighborhood Allies has named as its first president the nationally recognized innovator behind revitalization efforts in Youngstown, Ohio.

Presley Gillespie begins his work in mid-May with the nonprofit that established this year from the dissolution of the Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development.

Mr. Gillespie founded the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. five years ago. It was that city’s first such entity and it grew from a $200,000 start-up into a $3.1 million force behind housing rehabilitation and green enterprise, including the Iron Roots Urban Farm, a commercial enterprise on a solar-powered campus with a demonstration kitchen, job training workshops and a community loan fund for low- and moderate income home buyers.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/04/17/Neighborhood-Allies-names-innovator-as-first-president/stories/201404170138#ixzz2z9oBG3S0

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Clarke Unveils Plan For Affordable Housing In Gentrifying Philly Neighborhoods

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Council President Darrell Clarke today unveiled a plan to build 1,500 affordable housing units in gentrifying neighborhoods like Francisville, Point Breeze and Mantua by redeveloping city-owned vacant land or tax-delinquent properties.

One thousand of the units will be rentals and would take advantage of two underused financing tools, Clarke said: operational subsidies for affordable housing from the Philadelphia Housing Authority and a tax credit from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

The city would also need to issue a $100 million bond to be paid for by the Housing Trust Fund, which currently supports other programs.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/cityhall/Clarke-unveils-plan-for-affordable-housing-in-gentrifying-neighborhoods.html#o1ssZ08Syqt3eBBK.99

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Allentown Planners Warm To Cottage Houses Proposed At Former Montex Plant

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lehigh County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lehigh County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A developer proposing a community of cottage-style houses at the former Montex Textiles plant in Allentown hopes to start working on the homes by the summer.

The 52-home complex, first proposed last year, emphasizes shared community green spaces and pedestrian-friendly streets to encourage a “front-porch culture” among neighbors.

The Allentown Planning Commission reviewed the sketch plan for the Sixth and Cumberland streets project today, and although a final vote will be held in the future, the early feedback was generally favorable.

“I think it’s a refreshing approach,” commission Chairman Oldrich Foucek said of the project, which is called Trout Creek Cottages.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/03/allentown_planners_warm_to_cot.html

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Allentown Mayor Announces Plans To Improve Poorest Neighborhoods

English: City of Allentown

English: City of Allentown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski announced an initiative today to make health and safety improvements in the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

The city has committed $2.5 million for such Center City improvements and has asked the business community to match or exceed that amount in donations.

Working with the Allentown School District, the city plans to focus on blight remediation, housing redevelopment, home ownership and streetscaping projects.

“I believe Allentown will become a beacon of hope and an economic model for redevelopment (that) can be replicated across the state and across the country,” Pawlowski said.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/03/allentown_mayor_announces_plan.html

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Citizens Action Committee For Pottstown To Give Presentation To Borough Council And Codes, February 20th

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Citizens Action Committee will be giving a presentation to Pottstown Borough Council and the codes and infrastructure departments about a wonderful program that has been implemented in sections of Utah and has proven success in reducing crime and blight in communities, holding landlords accountable, and spurring community revitalization and positive growth.  The program is called The Good Landlord Program, some basic details of it are linked below.  Please make every effort to attend this meeting and show your support of bettering YOUR town! Ears are opening at council and we need to make out presence and interest known!

The presentation will be delivered THIS THURSDAY, February 20th at the Codes/Infrastructure meeting at 5:30 p.m. at Borough Hall.  Take an interest and be part of the solution!

http://www.communityprogress.net/filebin/pdf/toolkit/UtahHousingCoalition_WhatIsTheGoodLandlordProgram.pdf

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Brian O’Neill: Blight-Ridding Bill In Pittsburgh Shows Plenty Of Potential

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Drive down Hamilton Avenue or its side streets in Homewood and you’ll see a whole lot of not there anymore.

City Council is trying to hash out a plan to “land bank” the acres of vacant and boarded-up properties the city controls so they can be cleared for sale. That would take in about half of Homewood and almost half the Hill District.

When I asked Councilman Ricky Burgess, who represents Homewood, if he could give me a quick tour of the problem sites, he said, “You don’t need me. I’m dead serious. Drive down Hamilton Avenue and drive around at your leisure. It’s so bad … it’s breathtaking.”

He was right. It came as advertised.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/brian-oneill/2014/01/26/Brian-O-Neill-Blight-ridding-bill-in-Pittsburgh-shows-plenty-of-potential/stories/201401260059#ixzz2reCwstxI

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As Scranton Mayor, Doherty Leaving, His Mark Affixed

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For an evaluation of Mayor Chris Doherty’s 12 years in the top city job, listen to his chief critic.

“Overall, the mayor did a very good job. He had a vision for the city and, by and large, I think he fulfilled that vision,” city council President Janet Evans said.

This is the same Janet Evans who spent the better part of her 10 years as a councilwoman ripping Mr. Doherty for one shortcoming or another at weekly council meetings.

Not that Mrs. Evans is done criticizing. She still thinks Mr. Doherty borrowed too much money, should have negotiated contracts with the city’s police and firefighter unions instead of fighting a losing and costlier arbitration battle and needed, in his later years, more experienced cabinet members.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/as-mayor-doherty-leaving-his-mark-affixed-1.1608177

Ross Firm Strives To Make ‘Pittsburgh Neighborhoods Viable Again’

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Josh Adamek and Scott Hastings believe their work is a form of neighborhood-building.

“A lot of these properties are distressed, so they aren’t worth anything,” Adamek said of the houses they are renewing. “With some work, they are homes and they help the tax base.”

Adamek is president and Hastings is vice president of Synergy Capital in the Perrysville section of Ross. The 3-year-old real estate development and investment firm is renovating homes in what Adamek calls “trendy neighborhoods” such as Lawrenceville, Bloomfield and the South Side.

“They are doing quality work,” said Aspinwall architect Susan Tusick, who has worked with the pair on several projects. “They are trying to make these city neighborhoods viable again.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/realestate/5011466-74/adamek-hastings-homes#ixzz2lghMlszE
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Philadelphia Could Make History With Land Bank Plan

English: Map of Philadelphia County highlighti...

English: Map of Philadelphia County highlighting planning districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maybe City Councilman Bobby Henon said it best on Thursday: “Right now, we have opportunity to make historic changes.”

Henon, chairman of Council’s Public Property Committee, was talking about the bill to create a land bank.

It’s a system Atlanta, Cleveland, St. Louis, and other cities have adopted and that supporters say could help cure the blight haunting many Philadelphia neighborhoods.

But with history at stake, the proposal seems stuck

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20131125_Philadelphia_could_make_history_with_land_bank_plan.html#u0ZlRfmlg53GFGwF.99

Mosaic Community Garden Wins Excellence In Planning And Design Montgomery Award

teacher-lauraThe Mosaic Community Garden, located in Pottstown Borough, received a 2013 Montgomery Award for creative vision, successful collaboration, strong community involvement, and positive neighborhood impact. This popular garden offers an attractive gathering place for residents to grow a variety of produce and learn about healthy living.

To read the entire article and view the pictures, click here to open the PDF file: 2013 Montgomery Awards

Philadelphia Council Committee Says Yes To A Land Bank

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After years of talking the talk about getting a land bank in Philadelphia, where blight scars entire neighborhoods, City Council started Monday to walk the walk.

On a 6-1 vote, Council’s Committee on Public Property and Public Works approved a resolution to establish a land bank. The bill still needs a vote of the full Council.

If it approves, Philadelphia would become the largest city with a land bank. Land banks streamline the process for rescuing blighted property, whether by homeowners who want to turn a vacant lot next door into a garden or developers who hope to buy clusters of houses to make way for a major project.

One expert said Philadelphia was better equipped than some cities with land banks, such as Flint, Mich.; Cleveland; and St. Louis.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20131029_Phila__Council_committee_says_yes_to_a_land_bank.html#86b2DVYsKXDDfbXV.99

Changing Skyline: PHA, Homeowners In Stalemate Over Plans For Empty Public-Housing Tower

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kimberly Mathis put up with plenty when the public-housing tower that shadows her little Germantown street was inhabited, but things got worse after the Philadelphia Housing Authority emptied the apartments in 2011 in preparation for demolition.  The drug dealers, who had done a brisk trade inside the Queen Lane high-rise, quickly shifted business to the sidewalks below.  They even dragged a set of bleachers to a spot across from Mathis’ house, which she bought from Habitat for Humanity and shares with a disabled daughter.

That was the last straw.  Furious, Mathis says, she grabbed an ax and proceeded to hack the bleachers into firewood.  The dealers scattered like so many roaches, taking up new positions a block away.  She says her stretch of Priscilla Street has been dealer-free ever since.

If only getting rid of the notorious Queen Lane tower were as simple.

In the two tumultuous years since PHA announced plans to replace the graceless, 16-story misfit with 55 rental houses, the agency’s relationship with neighborhood homeowners has gone from bad to worse.  For a while, it seemed that the project would enable PHA, which is still recovering from the Carl Greene scandal, to showcase a gentler, more collaborative style. Instead, the agency now finds itself in the position of ramming through a problematic design.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/home/20130816_Changing_Skyline__PHA__homeowners_in_stalemate_over_plans_for_empty_eyesore.html#VDGH3TPO8jgUeyys.99

Reading Officials Anticipate Announcement Of Funding For Downtown Project

Picture 533Reading officials are hoping that a visit Wednesday from the state’s community and economic development secretary will result in millions of dollars in grant money to build a thriving business district downtown.

City officials are anticipating that the state has accepted the city’s application to be designated as a Keystone Community, which would provide access to economic development-related funds.

They say they haven’t been given the final word, but city officials said state Community and Economic Development Secretary C. Alan Walker is coming to Reading to make an announcement Wednesday.

“We’re hoping that’s part of the reason why he’s coming,” Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer said Monday.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=502229

Kenhorst Borough Council To Address Blighted Properties

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Officials are set to address blighted properties in Kenhorst after a unanimous vote authorizing Solicitor Jill Nagy to draft a supplemental ordinance to help recover money used maintaining derelict houses and bank-owned properties.

Borough Council President David Roche told council that the supplement would be more of a backbone to the municipal building code, and that a newly formed blight steering committee met Wednesday to figure out how to better attack problem areas.

The panel consists of Roche, Richard Fritz, Mayor Nick Hatzas, Borough Manager Jeri Diesinger, Nagy and two residents who have not yet been chosen.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=498578

Pittsburgh’s Larimer Revival Concerns Residents

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Plans to revamp Pittsburgh’s Larimer section promise the creation of a new kind of neighborhood, where low-income residents are no longer clustered in housing projects or crumbling apartments, where subsidized housing units are scattered among market-rate ones.

But some are worried that the blueprints for the $100 million housing development would push residents in two places slated for demolition — East Liberty Gardens and a Pittsburgh Housing Authority-owned project — farther from transit lines and business districts.

“[The housing authority] is talking about moving me somewhere else,” said Robert Morton, who lives in one of 27 units in the Auburn/Hamilton-Larimer complex, which is owned by the housing authority. Mr. Morton, 64, uses a wheelchair.  “I can’t just uproot and go somewhere else.”

The city is currently preparing an application for a highly competitive $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, with hopes of building some 350 units of mixed-income housing in the struggling neighborhood, to support jobs, parks and businesses similar to those in neighboring East Liberty.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/pittsburghs-larimer-revival-concerns-residents-697299/#ixzz2aRwXiz1o

Wilkes-Barre Group Aims To Revitalize Neighborhoods

WILKES-BARRE — A nonprofit organization has it eyes on city-owned vacant lots as part of a plan to revitalize neighborhoods.

Larissa Cleary, founder of In the Gap, presented the group’s plans for the properties to City Council this week. “My idea is to utilize the city’s land; sell it to me for $1 in order to build and develop the area,” she told council.

With only five minutes to present her group’s plan, Leary provided a summary and said she looked forward to meeting with council members for a more in-depth discussion.  If given the opportunity to do so, she said, “I could make every one of them happy.”

In the Gap, based in the city, intends to construct 12 townhouses on Hickory Street and single-family houses in the 400 block of South River Street, she said.  If the lots don’t sell, the group would revamp its plans so the townhouses would be rent-to-own properties, Cleary said.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/684497/W-B-group-aims-to-revitalize-neighborhoods

Genesis Housing Corporation Homes For Sale In Pottstown

Now is the time to buy renovated single family homes.  Total monthly payments as low as $452 per month. [info/application].  Click here to see our available homes.

Pottstown homes are 610 Chestnut St., 612 Chestnut St., 405 Walnut St and 407 Walnut St. Coming soon is 433 Walnut St.

The Washington Street Neighborhood Project is revitalizing Washington Street in Pottstown, Pennsylvania.  The Washington Street Neighborhood Project emphasizes home ownership and encourages local renters to become homebuyers.

The Washington Street Neighborhood Project purchases, rehabs, and resells homes at affordable sale prices with an interest free soft second mortgage for the difference between the sale price and the appraised value of the home.

Read more:  http://genesishousing.org/projects_wash2.html

Under The Gun: Increase In Crime In Norristown Can Be Traced To Economic Decline

Location of Norristown in Montgomery County

Location of Norristown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This is Part One in a series examining crime in Norristown and possible answers to stem the tide.

NORRISTOWN — Renee Goldman remembers one of the sheer simplicities of Norristown’s golden age: leaving the door wide open on warm days.

She also remembers when crime — largely petty and non-violent, initially — slammed shut the door of her dad’s Main Street business and locked it for good.

“Eventually we went from keeping the door open when the weather was nice to keeping the door locked and opening it only when the customers came,” recalled Goldman, who began working at her father’s Custom Hearing Aids office in the 200 block of East Main Street as a teenager in the 1960s.

Back then she felt safe walking down to Woolworth’s on Main Street on whatever errand her dad, Henry Ginsberg, sent her on.

Read more:  http://www.timesherald.com/article/20130601/NEWS01/130609968/under-the-gun-increase-in-crime-in-norristown-can-be-traced-to-economic-decline#full_story

Pottstown Community Garden Taking Root In Second Site

POTTSTOWN — Say goodbye to the crumbling eyesore, say hello to Pottstown’s second community garden.

The continuing efforts by the Mosaic Community Land Trust to transform falling-down buildings and lots into productive assets took another step forward this week with the demolition of 615 Chestnut St.; the vacant site of a former neighborhood store will soon become a place where local residents can grow food for their tables and flowers for their enjoyment.

The property was owned for several years “by a fellow down in Philadelphia who eventually gave up on owning the property because he didn’t want to have to pay to demolish it, so he donated it to the land trust,” said David Jackson, chairman of the land trust’s board of directors.

That leverage, he said, was the result of pressure from the borough codes department, which cited the property repeatedly for violations.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130610/NEWS01/130609277/pottstown-community-garden-taking-root-in-second-site

Spencer Unveils Bold Plan For Reading

English: Downtown Reading, Pennsylvania; with ...

English: Downtown Reading, Pennsylvania; with Berks County courthouse on left; July 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reading Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer on Thursday outlined an ambitious agenda of more than a dozen initiatives, some already begun, to improve the finances and conditions of the city and its neighborhoods.

Speaking to several dozen people attending the Pennsylvania Economy League’s Issues Forum at the Berkshire Country Club in Bern Township, Spencer recounted his campaign themes and said: “Those are the promises; what people expect is performance.”

He then led the audience through a rapid-fire explanation of where the city is and where it’s planning to go in several key areas.

He said the city has set goals for each area and is requiring any department initiatives to match those goals, with their results to be measured.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=472999