Home repair program brings millions to benefit Mercer County residents

Jan. 19—MERCER — A new state program designed to repair residents’ houses will bring almost $1.4 million to Mercer County.

The Whole-Home Repairs Program through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development is a first-time grant program through the American Rescue Plan Act.

The Community Action Partnership of Mercer County will design and develop the program, which will not begin to take applications from Mercer County residents for home repairs for at least six to 10 weeks, Wilma Torres, president and CEO, predicted.

The dollars coming to Mercer County will address the habitability and safet y concerns of homes and improve energy or water accessibility for families who cannot afford to make repairs. The homeowner would not pay for the services provided in their home.

“There are eligibility requirements, such as you have to meet income guidelines,” Torres said. “This is coming in and taking care of major issues.”

Torres said it is not a remodeling program. Such issues would include, for example, extermination services, replacing a roof or furnace, fixing a plumbing problem or a broken porch. Another example would be putting in a ramp to make a home wheelchair-accessible.

“It is a repair program to make the house habitable,” Torres said. “There has to be a problem.”

A second part to the program is connecting trainees and apprentices to jobs. So, Community Action Partnership is looking to partner with places such as the Laurel Technical Institute, the New Castle School of Trades, CareerLink, or the Shenango Valley Urban League.

“We will work with people for on-the-job training and apprenticeships,” Torres said. “To get individuals interested in trade jobs.”

The goal would be to assist trainees or apprentices with tuition or a stipend.

The two-part program is being created by Community Action Partnership, as it is in every other Pennsylvania county.

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To be eligible for the funds, organizations have to apply before Jan. 31. The county designated Community Action Partnership as the administer of the funds last week.

Torres has been meeting with various community leaders in Mercer County to begin start the application.

Torres said she will announce when the funds become available and when residents can start applying for grants.

“Once the application is approved, we will receive notification, we’ll invoice and within weeks after that they will deposit the funds into an account for use,” Torres said. “We still have to hire staff and create the application. We have to put policies and processes in place first.”

Follow Melissa Klaric on twitter @HeraldKlaric or email her at mklaric@sharonherald.com

Follow Melissa Klaric on twitter @HeraldKlaric or email her at mklaric@sharonherald.com