The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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June 15, 2014

Fixing up neighborhood

Grant’s for home improvements

FARRELL — The city of Farrell is about to get a makeover.

Gov. Tom Corbett recently announced that the community will be the recipient of a $50,000 Keystone Communities grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), which is used to beautify neighborhoods.

The money will be spent in the southwestern part of Farrell. Projects can include things like painting, replacing window sills, building new porch steps or landscaping.

“Everyone would like to see something different on their house,” City Manager Michael Ceci said.

Each home involved can receive up to $5,000. Anyone receiving money will have to contribute as well, based on income levels.

“If you’re going to get $5,000 for the work, you have to throw in at least $500, or $500 worth of sweat equity, let’s say,” Ceci said.

The selection process for whose home will get a piece of the pie is already drawing to a close.

“We have about 20 different homes that we’ve done all the homework on,” he said.

The city found out earlier this year that it would be awarded the grant, so it began researching the area in order to be ready for the official announcement.

A letter was mailed to everyone in the area, inviting them to an informational meeting at the city building, Ceci said. Attendees were asked to sign up if they were interested in taking part, and then applications were submitted.

“We know what they want, we know if they qualify or not, we’ve done all the background, so now it’s a matter of getting approval from the committee,” Ceci said.

Only homeowners in good standing with certain criteria are eligible for the grant money.

“You still have to be doing the things you need to do, that are expected of you as a homeowner,” Ceci said.

Participants must be up-to-date on their property taxes, have no exterior code violations on the outside of their home and can’t owe on their sewer bill.

“If you’re behind on all these things, it wouldn’t be fair to the people in the community who are paying those things and doing it the right way, for us to spend those grant dollars on that house when they’re not even taking care of the basic responibilities,” he said.

The committee will be reviewing applications this week to decide which houses will make the cut for the first round.

If Farrell is able to complete successful projects and there’s still a need for more work after the grant money runs out, the city can reapply.

“(DCED) wants to see impact in the neighborhood, they want to see their dollars making a difference,” Ceci said. “If we can show that there is still a need and people on the waiting list, we’ll be able to reapply.”

The city is expecting to grant money to 15 to 20 homes, depending on the work the committee chooses to pursue.

The grant will be used in alignment with a $300,000 homes grant Farrell received two years ago. The grant is used to repair code violations inside homes.

“There’s several different types of programs going on now that we’re hoping will continue,” Ceci said.


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