Apartments proposed for Coal Township

Photo provided

Shown is an artist’s rendering of an apartment complex being planned for Coal Township.

The Housing Development Corporation of Northumberland County has been awarded $2 million in aid from various sources toward the construction of Mountainside Estates in Coal Township.

The Housing Development Corporation (HDC) of Northumberland County has been awarded a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit allocation of just over $1 million, $500,000 through the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund (PHARE) and $500,000 through the PennHOMES program by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA), according to a joint announcement on Thursday from state Sen. John R. Gordner, R-27, and state Rep. Kurt A. Masser, R-107.

"We're excited about this," said Housing Authority Executive Director Ed Christiano. "We've been working on this for three years. We've been working with Coal Township Commissioners and Northumberland County Commissioner to make this a reality. We're excited to be able to provide affordable housing for our elderly residents."

The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program is a federal program originally created by the 1986 Tax Reform Act. The PHARE Fund was established by the commonwealth in 2010 and funding for this project will come from a portion of realty transfer taxes that are pledged to the fund. PennHOMES is a zero percent interest, 30-year term loan program. The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency is responsible for the administration of these programs in the Commonwealth. The purpose of the programs is to assist in the creation and preservation of affordable housing for low-income households.

The $6.5 million Mountainside Estates is a 36-unit senior apartment building, consisting of one- and two-bedroom apartments. Some will be handicapped-accessible. The project also includes an outdoor community space, which will allow the facility to host community events.

The vacant, blighted building and property adjacent to the Mountain View Nursing and Rehabilitation Center along Trevorton Road sits as the last witness to what was a bustling service community. Long ago, the entire site was developed as a complex to serve the poor and aging with several buildings, agricultural support and access roads. Most recently the surviving county home was used as county offices but they stopped using the property in 2004, according to Christiano.

The goal is to have the project under construction by this time next year with the planned opening date in the spring of 2021, said Christiano.

“I want to thank the (housing finance agency) and its executive director, Brian Hudson, for awarding these funds,” said Gordner. “This project will assist many low-income seniors to find quality, affordable housing that will also provide a benefit to the citizens of Coal Township.”

“The clearing of blighted property and providing worthy housing for low-income residents are two very difficult issues to address,” said Masser. “Through this project, we can accomplish both. It has been a lengthy process to get to this point and I would like to applaud the persistence of Ed Christiano and Pat Mack of HDC for making it happen.”

The Housing Authority is also working on the $983,000 Freedom Court, a low-income housing project designed for senior veterans. The project is currently under construction on an empty lot in Mount Carmel, and Christiano anticipates that the project will be finished in October.

In 2017, the Housing Authority also opened Phoenix Court Apartments in Atlas, near Mount Carmel, on the site of several blighted homes.