WILKES-BARRE — Governor Tom Wolf this week announced the recipients of a new round of funding for housing programs made available through the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement (PHARE) fund.
The governor has named 245 housing and community development initiatives in 67 counties that will share a portion of PHARE’s total $48.4 million in funding for the 2021-22 fiscal year. The PHARE fund is managed by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.
“This program ensures that communities are able to preserve existing housing and create new housing so that all Pennsylvanians have access to affordable, safe housing across the state,” Governor Wolf said. “This funding will ensure that money is applied where the need is greatest and can accomplish the most good.”
Funding for these PHARE awards comes from two main sources. Since 2012, the program has received a portion of impact royalties collected from natural gas companies operating in the state in an effort to address the housing shortage caused by the impact of drilling. Added to this is financing provided by part of the property transfer tax. The PHARE fund is often referred to as the state housing trust fund.
PHFA anticipates that today’s PHARE funding will impact Pennsylvania households through a variety of affordable housing efforts, including:
• 249 housing units rehabilitated/preserved thanks to the financing of 4% tax credit projects.
• 71 new single-family homes to be created.
• 419 potential new buyers will receive help with down payment and closing costs.
• Over 12,000 families/households receive housing counseling and financial education.
• 74 dwellings created or rehabilitated specifically for households at risk of homelessness.
• 5,289 affordable housing units to be preserved/rehabilitated.
449 new affordable housing units will be created with PHARE funds.
• More than 12,600 households at risk of homelessness will be assisted by programs funded by PHARE.
Luzerne County Recipients
• City of Nanticoke Home Ownership Program City of Nanticoke, $300,000
• Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program, Economic Opportunity Commission, $25,000
• Shelter Expansion Project, Domestic Violence Service Center, Inc. $150,000
PHFA staff report that at least 69% of the $48.3 million allocated today will be used to fund housing projects benefiting households with incomes below 50% of the region’s median income.
Representative Meuser supports
U.S. Representative Dan Meuser, R-Dallas, joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers to co-sponsor a bill that would allow companies to move operations to a neighboring country — making the U.S. less dependent on manufacturing and Chinese aid with economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean.
HR 7579 – “The Western Hemisphere Nearshoring Act” – aims to bring manufacturing back to countries close to America, addressing the root causes that drive migration to the United States and reducing supply chain dependency. sourcing with regard to Chinese manufacturing.
He creates a low-interest loan program to incentivize companies to move their factories from China to the Western Hemisphere.
Funding will come from Chinese tariffs, at no cost to taxpayers.
The legislation was crafted by members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, including Meuser, and immigration attorneys.
• The bill creates an ultra-low interest loan program managed by the Development Finance Corporation (DFC), leveraging private investment and funded by our existing China tariffs
• Eligible companies would move goods or manufacturing assets from China to Latin America or the Caribbean
• Approved companies would benefit from duty-free trade with the United States for 15 years (if their products are not already covered by an FTA)
• They would also benefit from tax advantages in the form of accelerated depreciation of 75%
• The company or country would receive technical assistance for the connection/establishment of an energy network
• Accelerates exports of unused nuclear reactors to the United States, such as micro-reactors
• The bill also directs the USTR to continue free trade negotiations with our LAC allies with whom we have not yet concluded an FTA.
• If businesses do not want to receive a DFC loan, they would still be eligible for other benefits of the bill if they meet the established criteria
• The bill exempts the totalitarian states Cuba and Nicaragua
Senator Casey, representing Cárdenas presents
legislation to limit the incarceration of young people
U.S. Senator Bob Casey, D-Scranton, and U.S. Representative Tony Cárdenas, D-California, introduce the Prohibiting Detention of Juvenile Status Offenders Act to keep more children out of custody.
Casey said that every year thousands of children are incarcerated for “statute offences” – acts that would not be considered crimes if committed by an adult – such as absenteeism, disrespect curfew or running away from home.
This incarceration is permitted through the use of the “valid court order” (VCO) exception. The Detention of Statutory Young Offenders Act would phase out and then ban the use of the VCO exception to prevent states from detaining youth for status offenses in favor of responses that better support youth.
“Thousands of kids are locked up every year for minor offenses like skipping school,” Casey said. “This disproportionate and dated response harms young people and does nothing to address the underlying issues. With this legislation, we can change the life trajectories of young people, create safer communities and better support young people going through a difficult time.
Toomey asks for DOE address
failure of states to protect students
U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley, this week called on the Department of Education to take action after the department released its report on state policies to protect students from educators who engage in bullying. sexual misconduct.
Under Section 8546 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) — which Senators Toomey and Manchin originally introduced — states receiving federal education funding must adopt policies or procedures to prevent academic institutions to authorize an educator who has sexually abused a child to move to another academic institution. institution.
This practice, commonly referred to as “passing the trash,” allows an educator to seek other teaching jobs and continue to assault students.
“While I appreciate that the Department of Education has finally fulfilled its obligation to investigate whether states have implemented policies, laws or regulations to end the heinous practice of ‘passing the trash “I am deeply concerned about these findings,” Toomey said. “Any educator who has engaged in sexual misconduct with a child should be prohibited from teaching in a classroom again, but too many states lack policies to ensure this is the case. publishing this report is only the first step – the department must hold states accountable and use the tools at its disposal to enforce the law.
Seven years after the adoption of this provision:
• Only nine states have laws to address the four most important factors in reducing teacher sexual assault cover-up.
• Sixteen states have no provision beyond a background check to prevent passing the trash.
• Sixty percent of states have failed to ban confidentiality and resignation agreements that endanger students by allowing predators to continue teaching.
• Only 18 states monitor school districts’ enforcement of aiding and abetting laws.
• More than a third of states expressed the need for more support and guidance from the Department of Education.
Senator Casey urges VA to create websites
accessible to people with disabilities
U.S. Senate Aging Committee Chairman Bob Casey, D-Scranton, this week led a bipartisan, bicameral group of committee leaders in sending a letter to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough urging the agency to improve the accessibility of the VA website for people with disabilities. Veterans.
The letter was signed by the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Aging and the chairs and ranking members of the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committees, among others.
President Casey also releases a recent VA report that shows only 10% of VA websites are fully accessible to people with disabilities as required by law, posing barriers for deaf, blind and paralyzed veterans. .
This report was required by President Casey’s bipartisan VA Website Accessibility Act, which became law in 2020, and requires the VA to publish reports to Congress on the accessibility of its websites, as well as a plan to make them accessible.
Veterans use VA websites to access a range of benefits, including health care, disability claims, education and training, housing assistance and more. VA employees also use VA websites to serve veterans. Without full accessibility to all of its websites, veterans face barriers to accessing the benefits they have earned through their sacrifices to our country, and VA employees with disabilities face barriers to effectively providing these advantages.
Contact Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.