With 350 affordable housing units for low-to-moderate income families planned or recently completed, Chester County has joined a growing number of cities and counties nationwide to enroll in the US Department of Housing’s House America program and of Urban Development (HUD), an all-hands-on effort to address the country’s homelessness crisis.
Chester County Commissioners recently presented a proclamation to HUD officials, who in turn thanked the commissioners for their commitment to working to house more of the county’s homeless residents.
“Homelessness continues to affect more than 400 residents of our county each night, with additional households impacted by disasters,” County Commissioners Chair Marian Moskowitz said. “The lack of affordable housing remains a barrier to the health, safety, well-being, employment and education of these individuals and their families. That’s why Chester County has committed to placing 150 homeless households in stable housing and adding 350 new affordable rental units to our development pipeline.
House America, launched September 20, 2021, by HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge, is a partnership between HUD, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), states, communities, and local leaders to respond to any emergency to the homelessness crisis.
According to the proclamation, more than 580,000 people on any given night were homeless in America when the COVID-19 pandemic began. These people have had to endure the pandemic without the security and protection of a stable home.
The U.S. bailout has provided Chester County and local governments across the country with significant new resources to address homelessness, including 70,000 emergency housing vouchers and $5 billion in grants through the HOME investment partnerships program, and $350 billion in state and local stimulus funds through the Department of Health. cash.
“We are grateful for the federal support and have used some of these dollars to spur the construction of more affordable housing in Chester County,” County Commissioner Josh Maxwell said.
“A 51-unit affordable housing complex in West Chester called Pinckney Hill Commons is opening this summer. We are also supporting Habitat for Humanity with a 30-40 unit development for first-time buyers in West Grove, and The Willows in Valley Run in Caln Township is expected to begin construction in the fall of 2022, with a total of 120 units planned by the end of 2024. These and other approved projects mark progress, but we know we must continue to make more to address the shortage of homes that families with low to moderate incomes can buy or rent.”
All Affordable Units funded between September 2021 and December 31, 2022 include the 350 in total. Funding programs for these affordable housing developments are administered by the Chester County Department of Community Development.
The Commissioners’ Proclamation states that the Housing First model represents the most effective approach to solving the problem of homelessness. The program involves identifying and supporting households experiencing homelessness to quickly secure permanent housing – with little or no barriers – through housing counseling and assistance in finding accommodation, to appropriate levels of housing assistance and/or comprehensive support services, as needed.
“We are proud to join House America and are committed to urgently addressing homelessness in our community by setting and achieving ambitious rehousing and housing creation goals,” added County Commissioner Michelle Kichline. “All apartments and townhouses in which county dollars are invested are subject to income restrictions. We commend HUD for bringing attention and targeting funding to help the most vulnerable among us.”
HUD Regional Administrator Matthew Heckles attended the meeting of commissioners to accept the proclamation. He thanked the commissioners for Chester County’s participation. Heckles was joined by two other HUD officials, Eastern Pennsylvania Field Office Director Robert Ford and Senior Analyst Brandon Porinchak.
Chester County becomes the third community in Pennsylvania to join the House America initiative after York and Philadelphia.