Presentation to Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors

On October 4, 2014, D.J. Liggett and Rachel Fawcett presented information about the Centre County Housing & Land Trust’s program offerings to the Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors. Their talk was immediately preceded by a brief overview of the importance of Affordable Housing by Sophie Penney, a representative of the Affordable Housing Coalition (AHC).

Penney stated directly that “…too many of our community members – elders, young professionals, and those on fixed incomes – lack access to affordable housing.” She shared her organization’s willingness to provide information about the topic to both the Supervisors and to the township residents.

In addition, Penney shared with the group that she was, herself, a resident of Ferguson Township, and her statements were directly demonstrative of a need for the kind of work described by D.J. Liggett and Rachel Fawcett when they began their presentation.

D.J. Liggett introduced herself as a representative of the Centre Regional Planning Authority (CRPA), and presented Fawcett in her role as the Executive Director of the Centre County Housing and Land Trust (CCHLT). Liggett reaffirmed to the group that affordable housing had been a serious concern in many of the Centre Region’s townships and municipalities since 2005, and even before that time. She recognized that individual municipalities, including Ferguson Township, had adopted individual ordinances or regulations governing the treatment of affordable housing for their area.

In order to ensure that a healthy stock of affordable housing would be available in each municipality, Liggett shared the need for administration of an oversight program. She further stated that the CRPA was not planning to provide that service, but that the CCHLT and its partner organizations had the time and expertise to conduct the operations required to create and maintain an affordable housing program.

The four basic services the CCHLT would coordinate to aid townships in maintaining affordable housing for their residents would be:

  1. Working with the municipality and developers on an agreement, so that when a plan is submitted there’s a development agreement that goes with it, and there’s an understanding between the municipality and the developer about how many affordable housing units will be provided, where they will be located, and what the pricing will be. The CCHLT has folks on staff to help with that and work out the details of development agreement.
  1. Once affordable housing units are built, the CCHLT can work to ‘income qualify’ potential buyers to make sure the ones who need it are the ones who are moving in.
  1. The CCHLT will also monitor the units to make sure no one is gaming the system – that the people who need the units are using them.
  1. When the house is available for resale the CCHLT would sit down with the developer or property owner and township to establish a resale price that would be affordable regardless of when the resale occurs.

As the program currently stands, Liggett informed the group that there is no direct funding for the services provided above, but that if any municipalities were interested in contributing to support these vital operations, their participation would be most welcome. She said that the Centre County Commissioners had provided some organizational funding to CCHLT to support its basic operations, but that the organization did not want to rely on those funds indefinitely. She stated that the costs associated directly with the program components listed above would be factored into the price of each house sold through the program, and would be financed over the length of the mortgage.

The Supervisors were invited to consider the CCHLT’s program offerings to aid their efforts to increase the affordability of housing in Ferguson Township.

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