Group seeks to build homes for low-income buyers



The project could be finished by November.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR PENNSYLVANIA BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- A nonprofit group wants to provide homes for first-time, low-income buyers and help a blighted portion of the city.
Cray Youth and Family Services of New Castle wants to renovate homes on the 200 block of North Crawford Street, an area near homes built by the Lawrence County Habitat For Humanity chapter.
The nonprofit is asking Lawrence County commissioners for 50,000 from the county's low-income housing trust fund to help pay for the project. Commissioners are expected to consider the matter tonight.
David Copper, executive director of Cray, contacted commissioners last month.
In a letter, he explains that Cray owns the homes at 213, 219 and 221 N. Crawford St., and they are in the process of acquiring 215 and 219 1/2 N. Crawford St.
"Our intention is to rehabilitate three of these properties, which will then be sold to low-moderate income families," he said.
Model program
Cray plans to use the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Youthbuild program as a model.
Youthbuild shows young people how to build new homes for people in need. It began in 1993, and since then 47,000 young people have constructed or rehabilitated more than 13,000 affordable housing units in their communities, according to HUD.
In the Lawrence County program, six young adults who are unemployed and have an interest in the construction trade will work with a local contractor to renovate the properties, according to Copper. Cray also will try to identify any academic deficits they may have and will enroll them in GED prep classes or other literacy programs.
In addition to the 50,000 from the county, the group is seeking a 120,000 loan from the Federal Home Loan Savings Bank of Pittsburgh.
Copper said they intend to renovate three of the homes and raze two others to reduce the density of the area. All of the properties are now vacant.
A time line submitted by Copper states that Cray hopes to have the renovations completed by November.
Commissioners are expected to consider Cray's monetary request at a meeting tonight.
cioffi@vindy.com

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