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SHARON Officials develop housing project for abuse victims



Published: Sun, January 27, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The city helped secure a state grant that will cover half of the project cost.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

SHARON, Pa. -- Officials plan to put a vacant city playground on Florence Street to a new use soon.

It's scheduled to become the site of transitional housing for abused women and children.

City council granted Mercer County Community Action Agency an option of the playground last week. It covers five city lots.

Sharon hasn't used the playground for years.

Teaming up: The housing project is a joint effort by MCCAA and Alternatives for Women/Advocacy, Resources and Education, which operates a temporary shelter here where victims of domestic violence can stay for up to 30 days.

The city got a $108,150 state Department of Community & amp; Economic Development grant to help finance the construction of housing where those victims can stay longer.

Making need known: Often, victims of domestic violence have nowhere to go when they must leave the 30-day shelter and frequently end up back in the abusive environment they fled, said the Rev. Larry Haynes, AW/ARE's acting executive director.

There is a need to provide some extended living arrangements for those people, he told city officials at a council workshop last fall when his agency and MCCAA asked the city to help secure state assistance for the project.

AWARE established a partnership with MCCAA to build two duplexes on the Florence Street site where abuse victims can live for up to two years after leaving the shelter.

MCCAA will build and own the houses, and AW/ARE will handle the counseling services required by the residents.

The two agencies already have a similar arrangement for the 30-day shelter.

It's owned and maintained by MCCAA but AW/ARE runs its programs.

Help from city: The city is helping there too, having recently secured a state emergency shelter rehabilitation grant of $51,800 that will be lent to MCCAA to renovate the 30-day shelter. The loan will be forgiven if the shelter remains in use as temporary housing for victims of domestic violence for the next three years.

Gary Cervone, MCCAA vice president and chief financial officer, said the transitional housing project on Florence Street has a total price tag of $216,301.

The state grant of $108,150 will be used to secure an equal amount of grant money from the U.S. Department of Housing & amp; Urban Development to complete the financial package.

MCCAA must prepare a technical plan for a HUD review. That should be completed in February and construction on the housing units could begin by spring or early summer, Cervone said.

Unlike many nonprofit agencies, MCCAA pays full real-estate taxes on the properties it owns.




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