W-B Officials Announce Beautification Grants
WILKES-BARRE — For a limited time, resident homeowners who live on some of the city’s most blighted streets can apply for matching grants of up to $3,000 to make exterior improvements to their homes.
Mayor Tony George announced the latest installment of the Neighborhood Beautification Facade Grant Program during a news conference Friday at city hall.
“Investing in our neighborhoods is vital to the city’s long-term development strategy,” George said. “There are many properties in the city that need this investment, and this project is a commitment to significantly upgrade the housing stock.”
George said the program will help residents who want to improve their property’s curb appeal while also helping to improve neighborhoods by and large.
“My commitment is to the neighborhoods, and this is a step in cleaning them up and making them more beautiful,” he said.
Only owner-occupied properties on the following streets are eligible: West River, Grove, Butler, Barney, Hanover, South Meade, North Meade, Dana, Empire, Brown, South Franklin and High streets, and North Pennsylvania Avenue.
Eligible improvements include repair or replacement of siding and exterior doors; repair, replacement or restoration of storm windows and sashes, window sills and hoods, decorative molding, bulkheads and door frames; repair, cleaning or painting of brick and stone masonry; repair or refurbishment of exterior porches and steps; and exterior painting.
Installation of access ramps, thresholds and entrances are only eligible in conjunction with other design improvements.
The matching grants of up to $3,000 would cover half of eligible costs for exterior improvements totaling up to $6,000 performed by city-licensed contractors.
The program is funded by taxes on gambling revenue funneled into a Local Share Account and awarded by the Commonwealth Financing Authority. George said the authority awarded the city $100,000, which would fund at least 33 facade improvement grants.
Applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis, George said.
“If you want a grant, come in … Monday or Tuesday. I would. My daughter just had her house painted; it cost her $7,500. So this is a great asset for the city residents,” the mayor said.
Applications and related materials can be downloaded from the city website at www.wilkes-barre.city. Under the “Government” tab, click the link for “Grants” under the “Department” heading and, on the next page, click the link for “Neighborhood Beautification Facade Program Procedures & Application” in the green box.
Application materials are also available from the city clerk’s office.
Completed applications must be returned to the Wilkes-Barre City Clerk’s Office, 4th Floor, City Hall, 40 E. Market St., Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711, by April 8.
Along with a completed application, applicants must provide a written outline of the scope of the intended improvements, written estimates from at least two contractors licensed by the city, photos of the current condition of the property, copies of proof of ownership and homeowner’s insurance and a signed and dated grant procedures form.
The city will calculate based upon the estimated project costs submitted how many initial applications will be processed. More applicants will be processed based upon availability of funding, grantees who voluntarily leave the program, or who do not meet all of the program requirements. In those cases, the next property owner on the waiting list will be selected.
Property owners must enter into an agreement with their contractor for 50 percent of the cost of the work, and the city will enter into a separate agreement with the contractor for the remaining 50 percent of the scope of work.
A city employee will inspect the work and the city will pay the contractor 45 to 60 days after both the city employee and homeowner “sign off” that the work has been satisfactorily completed.
Contact the writer: