Commissioners OK $3.4M for affordable housing

The Chester County Commissioners Thursday approved $3.4 million in support of two housing developments that are affordable to households with low-to-moderate incomes. One of the developments is in Caln Township, the other in Phoenixville.

“We are proud to announce $1.9 million toward construction of Willows at Valley Run, the first of two phases with 60 apartments, and $1.5 million for Phoenixville Senior Housing, a 62-plus community with 50 apartments,” said Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Marian Moskowitz.

“The awarding of this funding underscores our commitment to families and seniors struggling to remain a part of this community that we all love.”

Willows at Valley Run features one- to three-bedroom units. Phoenixville has one- and two-bedroom apartments for seniors.

The housing funds distributed by the Chester County Department of Community Development on the Commissioners’ behalf focuses on households earning between 20% and 60% of the area’s median income, according to the department’s director, Dolores Colligan. She also noted that the money awarded today comes from a combination of sources including the county’s housing trust and the federal HOME Investment Partnerships Program.

The housing trust fund dollars are generated by a fee paid on every mortgage and refinance recorded in the county. These funds are used solely for the development of affordable housing.

“These investments represent only a portion of the 350 affordable units we have in the pipeline as part of our participation in HUD’s (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)House America program,” said County Commissioner Josh Maxwell.

“We joined the program as part of a growing realization among cities and counties nationwide that we need to do as much as possible to make additional affordable housing available. Right now, we are moving at an aggressive pace to help developers meet the need,” added Maxwell.

Developers submit competitive proposals to apply for the money. The Commonwealth matches those funds with Low Income Housing Tax Credits.

Construction on both the Willows at Valley Run and Phoenixville Senior Housing will begin this fall. County Commissioner Michelle Kichline said that two other affordable housing communities will have opened before then.

“Pinkney Hill Commons in West Chester, with 51 units, marks the first County-funded affordable housing development of this size in the borough since the Mary Taylor House in 2010, and it is ready to officially open in September.

Shortly after that, we will also help cut the ribbon on Red Clay Manor in Kennett Square, with 60 senior apartments, also available for those age 62 or older,” Kichline added.

“The two sites we funded today, plus the two opening in September add up to 221 affordable apartments, including $5.5 million in County funding. That is an outstanding accomplishment in that short of a time frame, especially for our high property value area.”

While the county moves ahead with affordable rentals, another county partner, Habitat for Humanity has also been busy developing affordable homes for sale. Habitat expects to see the remaining four homes of 68 built at Cambria Terrace in the City of Coatesville and the Borough of South Coatesville before the end of the year. And Habitat’s Fuller Meadows townhome development in West Grove has sold the first 10 affordable homes, with 30 more coming in phases.

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