Home Rehab Program Back To Help Wilkes-Barre Residents
WILKES-BARRE — Mayor Tony George’s administration has brought back an owner-occupied home rehabilitation program to help residents fix code violations and remain in their dwellings.
Federal funds will pay for the repair, upgrade or replacement of things such as faulty or outdated electrical systems, non-working water heaters, faulty heating or plumbing systems, handicap accessibility, faulty roofs or porches, and sometimes even broken or non-working windows.
Applicants must meet income requirements. Gross (pre-tax) household income cannot exceed $37,150 for a one-person household, $42,450 for a two-person household, etc.
The city’s Office of Economic and Community Development launched the program this year after a six-year hiatus.
“This is a program Mayor George wanted to bring back to help prevent residents from losing their homes and to prevent neighborhood blight,” city Director of Economic and Community Development Joyce Morrash Zaykowski said.
Zaykowski said some residents, especially older citizens on fixed incomes, might not be able to afford one or more major repairs and would have to either sell their home or — if it was condemned because of a dangerous condition such as a problem with structural integrity or lack of heat — find somewhere else to live until they could afford to make repairs.
In such situations, homes often end up abandoned and become blighted.
She said funding that was previously encumbered by programs funded under previous administrations has finally been freed up, and more than a half-million dollars is available. She hopes this will fund work on at least 30 homes during the multi-year program.
The way the program works is: A city inspector will visit the homes of successful pre-applicants and make a list of code violations. The homeowner will choose three contractors from a list of seven who applied to participate in the program, and those three contractors will visit the home and provide estimates for the work. The contractor with the lowest estimate will be awarded the job.
All code violations the inspector finds must be fixed. Homeowners can’t pick and choose.
Zaykowski said the program differs from the city’s emergency home rehab program in that it pays to fix all code violations, not just the ones that would force someone from their home.
Zaykowski emphasized that the funding, which is provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HOME Investment Partnership Program, pays only to address code violations. “We’re not remodeling your home,” she said.
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HOME REHAB PROGRAM
n Participants’ gross household income must be less than $37,150 for a one-person household; add $5,300 to the threshold for each additional resident, up to $70,050 for eight or more. Proof of income, such as the last 30 days of paycheck stubs, or an annual Social Security or pension benefit statement, must be provided.
n An applicant must own and live in the home. The home must be within city limits, and property taxes must be paid current or the applicant must provide a letter of repayment from Luzerne County.
n To request a pre-application, call 570-208-4132 or visit www.wilkes-barre.city and click the link for Community and Economic Development under “Departments.” Thoroughly complete the pre-application; incomplete pre-applications will be rejected.
n Pre-applications will be accepted at the Office of Economic & Community Development, 3rd Floor, 40 E. Market St., Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711. Upon receipt, your name will be added to the waiting list. Call 570-208-4132 with any questions.