More momentum: the funding will allow home improvements in the borough area; downtown renovations underway, says Somerset Inc. | New
SOMERSET, PA – Tucked between South Center Avenue and Edgewood Avenue, just south of the heart of downtown Somerset, a district of historic homes sits at a crossroads in the borough, said Regina Coughenour of Somerset Inc ..
Many of the once grandiose houses from the turn of the century are showing their age.
Painted porches are peeling and an increasing number of front yards are neglected, she said.
Soon an effort will be underway to change that, allowing residents to receive matching funding to repair their front yards, repair porches and do other outdoor work.
As part of Somerset Inc.’s third year in Pennsylvania’s Neighborhood Assistance Program, the nonprofit plans to use $ 25,000 in funds to secure an even larger investment in the neighborhood, Coughenhour said.
âIt’s a beautiful historic area, but a lot of homes are on the verge of going downhill,â she said. âA lot of homeowners have lower incomes. Many are elderly and retired, unable to take care of their property like they once did – and we think this neighborhood renovation grant is a perfect way to help them. “
As designed, funding is available for repairs for those willing to match the cash. That match could be 50% – or even less – depending on the owner’s income level, Coughenour said.
âData shows that porch projects and home improvements create a domino effectâ that can transform a neighborhood, she said.
When a neighbor lights up their yard or facade, it often prompts another to grab a hedge trimmer or brush and make improvements to the neighboring property.
The target area stretches from South Center Avenue near UPMC Somerset to Edgewood – from the hospital campus area to the railroad tracks, she said.
âI hope this program will help us improve the quality of life in this neighborhood,â she said.
The move is one of many Somerset Inc. has launched in recent years to revive the borough by targeting the burn.
Last year, a high-end facade program was launched to allow businesses to make their properties more attractive or address security concerns that might otherwise bar renovations.
An additional $ 20,000 will be spent on this program in 2022, she said.
The Somerset business community has helped make the Neighborhood Assistance Project possible in the community.
Designed as a public-private partnership, the local effort was launched two years ago with investments from UPMC Health Plan, Somerset Trust and Global Inc., Coughenour said.
In return for their annual financial contributions – money that can be used for economic development – the state has approved each of the 80% tax credits, Coughenour said.
A local Neighborhood Assistance Program committee that includes representatives from investment firms, Somerset Inc and other members of the community develops a plan on how to use the funds and then obtains the approval of the State to start distributing the money to different projects, she said.
âCommunities across Pennsylvania will benefit from this funding – the result of public-private partnerships and cooperation,â Governor Tom Wolf said. âWe are delighted to continue to support PAN candidates who are committed to advancing and improving communities by making thoughtful plans to address issues impacting their neighborhoods. These projects strengthen the state as a whole and make it the best place to live, work and play.
Make “maximum impact”
Among the current and ongoing projects:
â¢ After purchasing the old Brinker building a year ago, $ 90,000 will be used to begin renovating the 102-106 West Main Street building in 2022.
â¢ $ 20,000 will be used to continue efforts to further develop the Glades Center into an apartment building of over 20 units for income-eligible residents. The non-profit Next Step Center will exploit the space.
â¢ $ 35,000 will be spent on a rent reduction program that was piloted for the first time this year. It allows future entrepreneurs in the business district to cover part of their rental charges during their first year of operation.
Local entrepreneurial coaches can also work with them to help them develop business plans designed to help them be successful, Coughenour said.
â¢ Additional funds will also be allocated to the development of Somerset Lake Park in 2022. The goal for the coming year is to develop a dedicated urban walking trail to connect the community to the lake and its growing trail.
âWe’re disjointed. We’re trying to stretch every dollar we can to have maximum impactâ¦ in housing, historic community properties, entrepreneurial (efforts) and recreational assets,â Coughenour said. “And as we go along it’s really exciting to see it all start to fall into place.”