Today, three houses sit ready for purchase on the 1500-block of Swatara Street in Harrisburg, filling formerly empty land and adding to the many new homes popping up on the block.
Last June, 160 volunteers from Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church in Maryland came to Allison Hill in Harrisburg to build three houses in just five days. They were brought to the city by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Harrisburg with the mission of creating more affordable housing.
“A year ago or more, these homes were blighted,” said Rob Keith, board president of Tri-County Housing Development Corp. (TCHDC). “This is just an example of how people can work together for a common good.”
Keith was talking about the partnerships between Habitat for Humanity, Tri-County HDC, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA), the city of Harrisburg and others.
According to Lyndsey Sturkey, Habitat’s executive director, the WoodsWork team from the Maryland church did the majority of the framing for the houses, while Habitat volunteers and Tri-County staff brought them to completion.
“The homeownership mentality is so important and it transforms neighborhoods,” explained state Rep. Patty Kim, who attended the unveiling.
While units 1511, 1513 and 1515 on the street are the most recent additions, TCHDC has been working to transform the entire block. With the new houses, the organization has reached 13 new homes.
Gary Lenker, executive director at TCHDC, noted that more than $5 million of federal, state, county and local dollars have gone into development on the street.
Each house is 1,600 square feet, including four bedrooms, one full bath and two half-baths, rear parking and a security system. Although construction costs exceeded $150,000 each, eligible families can purchase the houses for $101,900, Lenker explained. Buyers will also see building improvement taxes forgiven for the first 10 years.
Lenker added that a family’s median income must fall in the 51- to 80-percent range for the area, which equates to $45,450 and $70,100, in order to qualify. Buyers will also need to attend first-time homebuyer classes through TCHDC or PFHA.
Lenker mentioned that, while no one has moved in yet, “We have a lot of interested people.”
A property at the corner of 15th and Swatara streets was also removed and TCHDC hopes to begin development on the 1400-block next, according to Lenker. A new South Allison Hill police substation has also recently opened down the block.
In the coming weeks, TCHDC also will unveil two, six-unit townhouses in Steelton.
For more information, visit Tri-County HDC at www.tchdc.net. To purchase one of the homes, contact Barbara Kauffman of Iron Valley Real Estate at 717-608-1284.