County earns praise from HUD for boost in stable housing options

In this November 2022 photo the County Commissioners and staff from the County’s Department of Community Development joined developer Hankin Group at the ground breaking of Phoenixville Commons, a 50-unit affordable senior housing project.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently lauded Chester County’s House America efforts to rehouse individuals experiencing homelessness by providing stable housing options, and for increasing the county’s affordable home options. Since becoming a House America partner in June 2022, Chester County has rehoused 149 homeless households and added 111 affordable housing units, with more housing initiatives set for 2023 and beyond.

Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Marian Moskowitz said, “We are committed to ensuring that everyone who wants to live in this county has affordable housing options available to them. As a House America partner we are effectively using federal funds, including American Rescue Plan Act funds, plus state and local resources, to expand the number of homes that are available to all. Housing insecurity affects too many in our community, and HUD’s House America initiative is helping us address this problem.”

“Think about this. On any given night, approximately 400 people are experiencing homelessness here in Chester County, and beyond that, many others are struggling to afford rent, let alone buy a place to live,” said Commissioner Josh Maxwell. “This explains the importance of our commitment to the House America initiative and our focus on finding ways to provide homes for everyone.”

Affordable housing options that opened in 2022 in Chester County include 111 new units in West Chester and Kennett Square.  The Willows at Valley Run in Caln Township will see 120 new affordable rental units, funded partly by $1.9 million from the County. Also in Caln Township, Habitat for Humanity is acquiring land to build 25 to 30 affordable single-family homes for first-time homebuyers, made possible through a $640,000 County grant.  Habitat for Humanity has also received $500,000 in ARPA funds from Chester County to complete 100 housing rehabilitation projects within the City of Coatesville over the next three years.

In November of last year, ground was broken on Phoenixville Commons, a senior housing development of 51 units located in the center of Phoenixville.  The Villas of West Whiteland – 35 affordable units – has been awarded Low Income Housing Tax Credits and County HUD funding.

Commissioner Michelle Kichline said, “We pledge to continue planning and partnering with our municipalities, developers, and our state and federal governments to help those who want to live in Chester County. Making housing that is safe and affordable for more people isn’t just the smart thing to do – it is the right thing to do.”

“Chester County is proud to have joined the House America initiative, and as noted, we pledge to respond with urgency to homelessness and housing insecurities in our community by setting and achieving ambitious re-housing and housing creation goals,” said Dolores Colligan, Director of the Chester County Department of Community Development.  “Our commitment remains strong with an additional 206 approved affordable units in active development, and 105 pending units in the pipeline for Chester County.”

House America – a nationwide partnership with HUD, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), states, counties, and local leaders – was created in September 2021 to respond to the urgent homelessness crisis. The program is administered locally by the Chester County Department of Community Development.

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