Land-use webinar to focus on creating affordable housing in communities

February 06, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — How communities can provide affordable housing will be the topic of a web-based land-use seminar offered by Penn State Extension at noon on Feb. 19. 

Presenting the 75-minute webinar will be Leah Eppinger, executive director of the Housing Authority of Dauphin County, and Penny Campbell, with the Clarion County Housing Authority and the Elk County Housing Authority.

About half a million families in Pennsylvania lack access to safe, affordable housing. This shortage has long-term economic impacts, making it difficult for some employers to find workers and forcing some minimum-wage employees to have long commutes to jobs in communities where they can’t afford to live. It also forces some seniors to decide whether they can afford food, medicine or shelter.

“Affordable housing in Clarion County was addressed through a cooperative effort between the Clarion County Housing Authority and Clarion County Community Development Corporation to rehabilitate foreclosed properties that could provide housing for low income households,” Campbell said. “The rehabilitation process resulted in the transformation of two blighted structures to homes made available to homeless families through a collaboration with Community Action and Children and Youth Services.”

The needs of the community, partnerships with local banks, Federal Home Loan Bank application, and collaboration for ongoing services were part of the planning process in the community, she added.

The Housing Authority of the County of Dauphin focused on increasing the number of affordable housing units in the county, Eppinger noted. In the current financing environment, one way to develop new affordable housing is through the tax credit program at the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, she pointed out.

“Critical planning steps include land acquisition, zoning code compliance and finance package,” Eppinger said. “For Cherry Orchard Place, we were successful in applying for funds to develop 49 units of affordable senior housing in Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County.” 

This webinar will cover the review of zoning needed to allow for the most budget-conscious development, as well as the critical steps to make an organization a player in the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency tax credit world. The presenters also will explore partnership options that contribute to more affordable-housing development.

“Affordable Housing Opportunities in Communities” is the second webinar in the Penn State Extension Winter/Spring 2020 Land Use Webinar series that runs through May. The series helps municipal elected and appointed officials, planners, landowners, farmers and community organizations be informed about land-use issues and decisions in their communities.

Other topics and dates in the webinar series include the following:

– Jan. 15: “Planning for Active Transportation in Southwestern Pennsylvania” (recorded)

– March 18: “Brownfield Remediation to Rebuild Communities”

– April 15: “Creating Vibrant Communities”

– May 20: “Improving Retail Activities in Rural Communities by Collaborating with the Department of Transportation”

 All programs are recorded and made available for future viewing.

The cost of the webinar series is $50 for all five sessions, or $95 for all five sessions for those who want to receive certification-maintenance credits from the American Planning Association. 

The cost is also $95 for all five sessions for professional engineers needing PDH credits. 

In addition, registered landscape architects can receive continuing-education credits for a fee of $65.

For more information, contact Peter Wulfhorst at 570-296-3400 or by email at ptw3@psu.edu. To register for the webinars, visit the website.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated February 06, 2020