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McKeesport authority sees $5,000 cut in HUD funding

| Thursday, March 20, 2014, 2:26 a.m.

A larger amount of federal money will go toward capital improvements in public housing across the nation in the coming year, but McKeesport's share will be nearly $5,000 smaller, while Allegheny County's share will be $205,000 less.

For the fiscal year that began March 1, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development handed out $1.788 billion in capital funding, compared to $1.72 billion a year ago.

Pennsylvania authorities overall have a slight increase from $117.38 million to $117.44 million.

McKeesport Housing Authority will get $1,622,754 compared to $1,672,176 for the year that began March 1, 2013. Allegheny County Housing Authority will get $4,174,479, down from $4,379,891 in 2013.

Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh is getting an increase, from $12.54 million last year to nearly $13.29 million this year, while Westmoreland County Housing Authority's grant is up from $1.85 million last year to $1.92 million.

“There are actually two grants included,” McKeesport Housing Authority executive director Stephen Bucklew said. “One is $1,533,895, which is an annual grant to only be used for capital repairs.”

The primary focus in McKeesport will be completion of the $9.8 million Yester Square development in Crawford Village.

“The 58-unit Yester Square project should start in May of this year and be completed in June of 2015,” Bucklew said. “There will be 20 units that will be fully (Americans with Disabilities Act/Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards) accessible and the remaining 38 units will meet HUD and (Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency's) ‘visitable' standard.”

“Visitable” means that a person in a wheelchair could visit the apartment and be able to use an ADA-compliant restroom.

“The majority of the funding for the Yester Square project is from the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Award through PHFA, which we received in July 2013,” Bucklew said.

The other major work items for the federal capital fund grant include roof and heating, ventilation and air conditioning repairs at the Harrison Village Community Center.

The rest of the capital grant includes $88,859 in Replacement Housing Factor Funds that will be given out for 10 years because of past demolition.

“We demolished 40 units several years ago,” Bucklew said. “It can only be used to build or acquire new units.”

All the HUD capital funding is based on complex formulas involving such factors as age of the buildings, number of units and whether it is used for family or elderly housing.

The capital funding is separate from the annual operating grants each authority gets from HUD. Final figures are not available on those grants but Bucklew said the McKeesport authority should get close to $3 million for operations in 2014.

“We submitted our funding application in November 2013,” Bucklew said. “HUD has been funding all housing authorities on last year's amounts until they finalize 2014.”

While Allegheny County Housing Authority's list of communities include units in Clairton, Duquesne, Homestead, West Mifflin and Wilmerding, and Westmoreland's authority has three developments in the Irwin area, specifics were not available at presstime about how either agency was using its HUD capital grant money.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or