O.E.C.D. - CONSOLIDATED PLAN

LINDA AEBLI
Executive Director

OFFICE HOURS: M – F, 8:00 to 4:30
PHONE: (570) 348-4216
FAX: (570) 348-4123

I Coordinating and Managing the Process

The City of Scranton (the “City”) participates in three community development programs through formula grants received from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”). These three programs are:

• Community Development Block Grants (“CDBG”)
• HOME Investment Partnerships (“HOME”)
• Emergency Shelter Grants (“ESG”)

The statutes for these programs enumerate three basic goals against which the City’s performance will be evaluated by HUD. These goals are:

1. Decent Housing - which includes:

• Assisting homeless persons obtain affordable housing
• Assisting persons at risk of becoming homeless
• Retaining the stock of affordable housing
• Increasing the availability of affordable permanent housing in standard condition to low income and moderate-income families, particularly to members of disadvantaged minorities without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability
• Increasing the supply of supportive housing which includes structural features and services to enable persons with special needs (including persons with HIV/AIDS) to live in dignity and independence
• Providing affordable housing that is accessible to job opportunities

2. A Suitable Living Environment - which includes:

• Improving the safety and livability of neighborhoods
• Increasing access to quality public and private facilities and services

• Reducing the isolation of income groups within areas through spatial de-concentration of housing opportunities for lower income persons and the revitalization of deteriorating neighborhoods
• Restoring and preserving properties of special historic, architectural, or aesthetic value; and
• Conserving energy resources

3. Expanded Economic Opportunities - which includes:

• Creating and retaining jobs;
• Establishing, stabilizing and expanding small businesses (including micro-businesses);
• Providing public services concerned with employment;
• Providing jobs to low-income persons living in areas affected by those programs and activities, or jobs resulting from carrying out activities under programs covered by the plan;
• Making mortgage financing available to low-income persons at reasonable rates using non-discriminatory lending practices;
• Increasing access to capital and credit for development activities that promote the long term economic and social viability of the community; and
• Empowering low-income persons and assisting these persons in becoming more self-sufficient to reduce generational poverty in federally assisted housing and public housing.

The Consolidated Plan states how the City will pursue these goals through the types of activities that will be carried out under these and other programs over the five year period beginning January 1, 2005. It also satisfies the application requirements for the HUD formula grant programs in which the City participates.

The Consolidated Plan is a collaborative process whereby the City establishes a unified vision for community development actions. The Office of Economic and Community Development (“OECD”), in preparing this plan, sought to build a cohesive and comprehensive framework to open new opportunities for collaboration and collective problem-solving. We established partnerships with other government agencies and with private groups in order to marshal government and private resources to achieve intended public purposes. The remainder of this section explains the specific actions and initiatives undertaken during the preparation of this Consolidated Plan.

Antipoverty Strategy

The Consolidated Plan identifies the types of housing and non-housing community development programs that the City plans to undertake over the next five years. Most of these programs aim to reduce the number of poverty level families in the City. In all cases, the City will coordinate its programs with similar programs offered by private sector businesses and local nonprofit agencies to leverage our resources and to maximize their impact.

Geographic Distribution of Resources

The Consolidated Plan includes information on the geographic areas of the City, including areas of low-income families and/or areas of racial/minority concentration, in the form of maps that are located in the Maps Appendix on pages B1 – B9. The City intends to allocate program assistance to these areas, on a priority basis, as outlined it the strategies contained in the Consolidated Plan.


Obstacles to Meeting Underserved Needs

In meeting underserved needs, the City has encountered an obstacle related to communication. Recently, we have experienced an increase in the amount of Spanish-speaking persons applying to our homebuyer assistance program. We have begun to develop Spanish language versions of our program applications to remove this obstacle. We will monitor this issue closely in the near future; if communication problems persist, we will consider hiring or otherwise contracting with a bilingual person.

Lead Agency

The City of Scranton, Office of Economic and Community Development (“OECD”) is responsible for the development of the Consolidated Plan and the implementation and administration of the programs covered by this Plan. OECD consists of thirteen full-time employees whose primary responsibility is the administration of these programs. OECD regularly consults with the Mayor and staff persons from other City of Scranton departments in order to ensure that the community development programs are carried out in an efficient and effective manner.

Advisory Committee

OECD formed the Consolidated Plan Advisory Committee (the “Committee”) to benefit from the guidance offered by civic and community leaders who represent a wide range of constituencies. We met with the Committee twice to obtain their views and concerns as they relate to community development. We submitted a working copy of the Consolidated Plan to each of the eleven members of the Committee and solicited feedback from them. We incorporated their comments and suggestions into subsequent revisions of the Consolidated Plan

The Committee was comprised of:

Name Agency/Organization

1. Robert M. McTiernan Council of the City of Scranton
2. William J. Schoen Redevelopment Authority of the City of Scranton
3. Gary Pelucacci Scranton Housing Authority
4. Michael W. Morin Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community and Economic Development
5. Cindy M. Campbell Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community and Economic Development
6. Andrew Weinberger Lackawanna County
7. Paul T. Colaiezzi Scranton Tomorrow
8. Michael J. Hanley Housing Coalition of Lackawanna County
9. Barbara Parkman Nonprofit Resource Center, University of Scranton
10. Rev. Edna M. Parker Bethel AME
11. Kevin Rogers PNC Bank
12. Joseph Murray Diversified Information Technologies

Other Consultations

Members of OECD’s staff met on several occasions with the Lackawanna County Housing Coalition (the “Coalition”) to obtain its input on matters related to housing services, social services, and health services. The Coalition is comprised of substantially all local agencies that provide housing and housing-related supportive services to those in need. The Coalition provided us with several strategic planning documents that it had independently prepared, but that it believed should impact the process of preparing the City’s Consolidated Plan. We incorporated the Coalition’s comments and suggestions into this Consolidated Plan.

The Coalition consists of representatives from:

• Allied Services
• Bethel AME Church
• Catherine McAuley Center
• Catholic Social Services
• Community Development, PNC Bank
• Communities of Shalom
• Community Intervention Center
• Diocese of Scranton
• Fannie Mae
• Habitat for Humanity
• Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority
• Lackawanna Neighbors, Inc.
• Lackawanna Pro Bono
• Marywood University
• NEPA Alliance
• Neighborhood Housing of Scranton
• Nonprofit Resource Center
• Northern PA Legal Services
• Outreach Ministry
• Providence Full Gospel Tabernacle
• Safety Net
• Scranton Primary Health Care Center
• St. Joseph’s Center
• United Way of Lackawanna County
• United Neighborhood Centers
• VA Medical Center
• Voluntary Action Center
• Women’s Resource Center

We also met with the Coalition’s Continuum of Care Committee and its Sub-committee to End Chronic Homelessness to discuss homeless services. Both of these groups are comprised of substantially all providers of service to the homeless or those persons at risk of becoming homeless. We incorporated the concerns of these groups into the Consolidated Plan.

We consulted with Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Health and the local community-based Childhood Lead-Poisoning Prevention Project (CLPPP) in order to obtain data related to lead-based paint hazards, including addresses of housing units in which children have been identified as lead poisoned. We discussed collaborative efforts that could be undertaken to reduce these hazards and incorporated relevant strategies and objectives in this Consolidated Plan.

We discussed our non-housing community development strategic plan with representatives of Lackawanna County and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community and Economic Development. We distributed draft copies of this strategic plan to adjacent local governments and requested feedback. These groups expressed no concerns about our non-housing community development plans.

We consulted with the local public housing agency, the Scranton Housing Authority (“SHA”), concerning public housing needs and its planned Capital Fund program activities. We determined that SHA’s Capital Fund Plan/annual statement is consistent with the City of Scranton’s assessment of low-income housing needs (as evidenced in this Consolidated Plan) and we offered our cooperation in providing related resident programs and services. We also discussed activities with regard to local drug elimination, neighborhood improvement programs, and resident programs and services, funded under the public housing program and those funded under the programs covered by this Consolidated Plan, to ensure that they are fully coordinated so as to better achieve comprehensive community development goals.

Citizen Participation

The Citizen Participation Plan

The City of Scranton has developed a Citizen Participation Plan (the “CP Plan”), a Consolidated Planning Requirement, designed to provide its citizens, who are the beneficiaries of community development program activities and services, with a continuous opportunity to participate in:

• Developing the housing and community development needs assessment;
• Implementing the strategic plan; and
• Assessing the City of Scranton’s performance as it relates to the community development programs.


An effective citizen participation process will enable the City of Scranton to design its programs and activities to meet the needs of its citizens, particularly those of low- and moderate-income, residents of blighted neighborhoods, and members of minority groups.

The CP Plan identifies how OECD will seek public input, advertise its meetings and public hearings, and reach out to neighborhood residents and professionals involved in community development. It also describes how the annual Action Plan is developed, how the Consolidated Plan or Action Plan may be amended, and how OECD will address citizen complaints.

The CP Plan is maintained by OECD. It is available for your review at:

The Office of Economic and Community Development
538 Spruce Street
Suite 812
Scranton, PA 18503

It is also available at the following locations:

• Office of the Mayor, Municipal Building
• Office of City Council, Municipal Building
• Scranton Housing Authority, 408 Adams Avenue
• Albright Memorial Library, Vine Street and Washington Avenue
• Lackawanna County Regional Planning Commission, Court House Annex, Scranton
• Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance, 1151 Oak Street, Pittston Township, PA, 18640-3795
• Office and/or President, Neighborhood Associations

Summary of Public Input

Surveys

OECD designed a survey to help identify the level of priority to be assigned to community development needs. This survey was sent to eighty-two individuals who represent neighborhood associations, nonprofit organizations, economic development organizations, and businesses. We received forty responses and used these responses in developing our needs assessment and strategic plan.

Public Meetings (To Obtain Public Input During Plan Development)

OECD conducted four public meetings to obtain citizen views on housing and non-housing community development needs in the City of Scranton and the development of proposed activities to address those needs, as follows:

• March 15, 2004, 7:00 pm, at the West Side Neighborhood Association building, Jackson and Bromley Streets (West Scranton);
• March 16, 2004 , 7:00 pm, at Lackawanna College, Vine Street and N. Washington Avenue (Central/East Scranton);
• March 22, 2004, 7:00 pm, at the South Scranton Renaissance Corporation building, 705 Pittston Avenue (South Scranton); and
• March 23, 2004, 7:00 pm, at Weston Field, 982 Providence Road (North Scranton).

These public meetings were advertised in The Scranton Times and The Scranton Tribune on March 12 and 13, 2004. Newspaper advertisements included the meeting locations and times and the anticipated 2005 formula allocations for Community Development Block Grants, Home Investment Partnerships, and
Emergency Shelter Grants.

Summary of Public CommentApproximately thirty citizens offered input at the four public hearings on a variety of community and economic development needs. Their remarks are categorized and summarized below:

II Housing

Citizens demonstrated support for activities that provide funds to income-eligible families to encourage homeownership and rehabilitation of homes, especially in neighborhoods that exhibit signs of excessive decay. Speakers representing two nonprofit housing agencies indicated that it has become increasingly difficult for them to provide affordable housing because housing costs have increased at a faster rate than family incomes.

Homelessness

According to speakers representing agencies that provide services to homeless persons, the demand for those services (particularly in regard to shelter) was not met by the current supply; in fact, these agencies were forced to use scarce resources to provide more costly means of shelter for homeless persons (such as hotel/motel accommodations). These speakers expressed a need for additional emergency shelters.

Economic Development

Speakers applauded the City’s recent progress in revitalizing the central business district and encouraged continued efforts in that area. Other citizens indicated a need for similar initiative in neighborhood commercial areas, especially in South Scranton’s Cedar Avenue corridor.

Public Facilities

Citizens pointed out that the amount of available parking spaces is insufficient to support retail enterprises and the new hotel and conference center in the central business district. Speakers also mentioned that the playground equipment in some neighborhood parks needs to be replaced and/or repaired.

Written Comments Offering Feedback on Draft Version of Plan

We received one written comment offering feedback on the draft version of the Plan from Mr. Keith Tucker, Executive Director of Lackawanna Neighbors, an local nonprofit housing agency. Mr. Tucker, a key member of the Lackawanna Housing Coalition, suggested a specific change to a section in the Housing section that he felt misrepresented the study that it had alluded to. We understood the nature of his objection and we agreed to make the change that he had suggested. The final version of the Plan reflects this change.

Public Meeting (To Obtain Feedback on Draft Version of Plan)

The Council of the City of Scranton conducted a public hearing on September 30, 2004, in conjunction with its regularly scheduled meeting (which are televised on a local public access channel), to obtain citizen input on the draft version of the Consolidated Plan that had been made available to the public one week earlier. This hearing was advertised in The Scranton Times and The Scranton Tribune on September 23, 2004.

Summary of Public Comment

Four citizens offered input at this public hearing on a variety of community and economic development needs. Following is the stenographer’s account of their remarks and OECD’s response (where necessary):

Andy Sbaraglia, Citizen of Scranton

Fellow Scrantonians, I only want to speak on a few items out of this block grants. One of them I want to speak on is the Lackawanna College. We are giving them $500,000 for a piece of property that they. claim is blighted. Who declared that property blighted as an eyesore because they used - if you notice, they got this - after they give you SB symbol, and if you look at the symbols, it's SB says an activity that aides in the prevention or elimination of slums or blight on a spot basis. Now, somehow or some way that place was declared blighted? As far as I know, it was just vacant last year, isn't it? Okay. Let' go to the second one here. Redevelopment Authority was getting another half a million dollars. Okay. Now, their symbol is LMJ. Now, whenever look under LMJ and the symbols, LMJ, an activity that will create and/or retain permanent jobs for at least 51 percent of the jobs computed on a full-time equivalent basis involving the employment of low- and moderate-income persons. I assume they're saying that when they build this garage, the people that works in the mall or the store that's going to be in there, restaurant or whatever, will be the low and somebody that works in the garage will be the moderate, but this goes on for five years. How long are these people going to be considered low and moderate, for the next five years just on them symbols? Now, you may get away with the first year, but I don't see how you are going to get away with the second, third, fourth and fifth year. Okay. The other thing I want to talk on is OECD. Now, they're claiming they want their share out of this pot. As $821,261.27 to administer this project. Gentlemen, them three projects take one-third of the block grants, goes to these three projects. Another thing, let's get over to the HOME. As you know, this under HOME, they put aside $350,000 to build new homes, assist in providing low-and moderate-income homeowners to cover a portion of the down payment and mark off closing costs. Well, that's assuming for people buying homes or building them or whatever you want to call it. Under the. rehab program, they only got like, $150,000. Well, gentlemen, we just had a bad flood and a lot of homes are damaged. A lot of homes if they can't bring them up to par will be vacated. I would like to see you maybe get a hold of the administration and see if you can take that money from the new HOME program and transfer it into the rehab program and make these homes available to some of the people in the flood area; especially because they definitely, a lot of them are probably retired and are low- or moderate-income. I went through them, and like I say, them three spots really came out. The garage, well, you know, the garage, I spoke on that many, many times and I'm not going to go deep into it because it's only rehashing it, but maybe of all these things, you can look at that half a million dollars for Lackawanna College to find out if it's really blighted or if it can be salvaged, because it's a beautiful building and it's a big building., and see if you can help out under HOME, see if you can get somebody to transfer a little money down there and make it available to the people so they know it, not to a few individuals that may know it and get .in on it before the other people get their share. I thank you..

OECD Response:

The National Objective for the activity to provide funds to Lackawanna College for the demolition of a portion of the former Scranton Lace Building was originally listed as “SBS,” which indicated that it would eliminate conditions of blight on a spot basis. While the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, State Historic Preservation Office, had approved Lackawanna College’s plans to demolish this building, OECD determined that it would be more appropriate to change the National Objective to be accomplished by this project to “LMJ,” which means that it will create jobs to be held by or made available to low- and moderate-income persons. We believe that requiring the College to create jobs through the future development that will occupy the land to be cleared in the proposed activity would produce a public benefit in addition to the elimination of conditions of blight.

CDBG funds have been committed to support the Lackawanna Avenue garage project. These funds were committed to ensure that the project’s developer, the Scranton Redevelopment Authority, could secure its financing. These funds will only be spent if needed to support this project. Based upon our preliminary review of the business to be conducted by the commercial enterprises to be located on the ground floor of the garage, we have determined that the project will create a sufficient amount of jobs and will make a sufficient amount of these jobs available to low- and moderate-income persons to comply with the LMJ National Objective requirements. Job creation will be monitored each year and the aggregate amount of new jobs created will count towards meeting these requirements.

We have traditionally made between $300,000 and $400,000 in deferred payment loans, on an annual basis, under our Homebuyer program. In order to ensure that this program has enough resources to meet the demand of eligible homebuyers, it is necessary that we allocate $350,000 in 2005. On the other hand, we have recently committed $300,000 of unspent funds from prior years’ HOME grants to a subgrantee, who will carry out a Homeowner Housing Rehabilitation program. It is anticipated that the entire $300,000 will be spent by the end of 2005; we will determine the appropriate amount of funds to be allocated to this program in 2006.

Robert Neveroski, Citizen of Scranton and President of the Hill Neighborhood Association

City Council, ladies and gentlemen , I've come down here to apply for the 2005 Community Development Grant. We have been in business in the Hill, we're a 501(c)(3) operating in the City of Scranton since 1977. If you looked in the paper, I mean, the Hill, with the help of the city residents, have done a lot of things for the city. We bought dogs, numerous dogs, we've had big clean-up projects, we rehabilitated the 300 and 400 block of Prescott Ave. We have never got a dime in CommD money because unfortunately the leaders of the Hill at the time were always out of sync with the administrations who ran the city. Now, this morning's paper, I think it was, South Side opened their Renaissance Center, which is great, but they got a $300,000 grant from the city to do that. Tripp Park did, Keyser Valley did. The Hill never got a dime, nothing. We did get money under the last year of Mayor Connors, but the present administration, totally untrue, decided that it wasn't so, but that money is, I talked to our attorney, that money is our money until Council votes it away in the future. So, I would ask you in the future don't do it. That money will be there forever. I've come down, we want to rehabilitate the second floor. We would like-to put a .knock the walls out, make a meeting room so we could hold meetings in the building, which we've always in the past went from church to church or synagogue to synagogue and held our meetings there. But I approached Bruno Gallagher, for the good of Bruno, I approached his sister Patty, she donated that building to the Hill, so we are operating out of there. I didn't come down to begrudge anybody, beat anybody up, but if you recall, Lackawanna Junior College, when they did the Mellow Center, which was the auditorium at Central, got $2 million to do that, which was my money. If I wanted to go and use the Mellow Center tomorrow, I don't think they're going to let me, you know, unless I pay. Now they’re in there for $500,000 to tear a tax-paying property down to put an athletic field. Well, shouldn't there be some kind of even flow of this money? Shouldn't everybody get a little piece of the pie instead of the pie going to all the people that it goes to every year? So, I'm here to ask City Council to put us in there and give the Hill Section, the .people we have 1,600 members in the Hill, and maybe close to 1,700. Yeah, we have a lot of people up there that pay tax to the city, and I think, you know, for all these years that I'm involved since 1980, started on the Hill as the law and order chairman, now I progressed to the president, but you know, I think all these years, we should be entitled to something, and I'm asking the members of City Council to give us a little consideration with this year's funding. Thank you.

(Editor’s note: The following exchange took place between Mr. Neveroski and Councilpersons William Courtright and Janet Evans after Mr. Neveroski had finished making his comments)

MR. COURTRIGHT: Bob, when you had said you'd gotten $30,000 in the past and then they said you weren't qualified, could you explain to me I think, I believe they said you weren't qualified because you didn't have public meetings there; is that it?
MR. NEVEROSKI: Right.
MR. COURTRIGHT: Now, if in fact for you to be considered this time, do you have public meetings there now-that would qualify you?
MR. NEVEROSKI: Well, Mr. Courtright, to answer your question the section they quoted from Ms. Hailstone, I called HUD up, there is no such section, it don't exist, so everything, I'm not saying they're liars, but they're certainly not portraying the truth here. So, that section they quoted don’t exist in HUD guidelines, it's not there. So, they're just using something because he don't want to give us the money. That's all it is.
MR. COURTRIGHT: All right. Could you answer that question? Do you have public meetings in there? Is it open to the public to have public meetings?
MR. NEVEROSKI: The building is open to the public. As far as having our monthly meeting there, we don't. We go to church, synagogue, wherever. But if you wanted to use that building, you're very welcome to use that building, and people do. But what we want to do here is renovate the second floor, knock the walls out, rehab the bathroom, make it handicap accessible, which when we got the building; the city came up and told us seeing how we were a public entity, we had to put a .handicap ramp, in, which cost us $7,500. All of a sudden,. we're not a public entity no more, but we did put out $7,500 of our money. But with this Mr. Courtright, I'm trying to answer your question, we want to hold our public meetings in this building, and that's why we're asking for this money, to rehabilitate
MR. COURTRIGHT: And if you got the money, you would be holding your public meetings there?
MR. NEVEROSKI: Absolutely.
MR. COURTRIGHT: I just wanted to see if by some chance you were to get the money, it wouldn't be taken from you or not given to you or whatever the case may be again. I'm not saying that they're going to give it to you, but I'm trying to head off a problem here, if I could, all right?
MR. NEVEROSKI: I got you, we want to rehabilitate the second floor, make it handicap
accessible, which we did with the ramp outside, so we could hold our public meetings upstairs. But I might reiterate here, if you, anybody else, which they do now, want to use that building, it's available.
MR. COURTRIGHT: It's available. All right. Okay. Thank you.
MS. EVANS: Does it house your Community Justice Program?
MR..NEVEROSKI: We've had the Community Justice Program up there for over three, four years now. Since we're in the building, just about they've been there. There which we maintain., which you're aware of that. The police have their bikes there too.
MS. EVANS: Yes.
MR. NEVEROSKI: They've been there since day one. They were across the street when we rented from the Mo Blatt’s Jewish Deli, the police were there. We've always had the police.
We pay for everything. They use the phones, they use the fax machines, we pay everything. 100 percent. They're calling up there on police business, they're calling Stroudsburg, Maine, wherever, we pay for that, and we're not after, you know, anything from the City. We pay for everything.
MS. EVANS: And the building is accessible, though, to Hill Section residents, in that they can visit and lodge their complaints with an Assistant District Attorney or the police officers.
MR. NEVEROSKI: There's a, Gary McPhillips is the policeman, he's there, there's a district attorney on Monday and Thursday, and a lot of people come in, register a complaint. We staff the building until two o'clock, and we're all volunteers there. There's one person that comes up from the older workers program and they pay him, he comes for 20 hours a week. Everybody else is a volunteer. We don't get no pay. We're paying for everything and, hey, we're just here asking for a fair shake. That's all. Thank you.

OECD Response:

In the 2001 Action Plan, $30,000 was allocated to the Hill Neighborhood Association to allow the organization to make improvements to the building that it was using as an office. At that time, it was presumed that this building was an eligible public facility and that it served an area comprised of primarily low- and moderate-income persons. We subsequently determined that this building was not an eligible public facility because it did not have sufficient space in which the organization could hold its regular meetings. We articulated this determination in a letter dated July 13, 2004. This letter cited the relevant section of the CDBG regulations (24 CFR 570.201(c)) which Mr. Neveroski claims does not exist (clearly, he is incorrect in making this assertion). If we were to assume that the building is an eligible public facility, we would be challenged to determine how making improvements to it would accomplish a National Objective since the “Hill Section,” the neighborhood served by the Hill Neighborhood Association, is not an area comprised of primarily low- and moderate-income persons. We have not initiated action to amend the 2001 Action Plan to delete this activity; however, we have not entered into a contract to commit these funds to the Hill Neighborhood Association because they have not presented an eligible project to us.

Lee Morgan, Owner of property in the City of Scranton

Good evening, Council. I would just like to start off by saying that I agree with what Mr. Neveroski said, that I think these funds should be released to them so that they can hold these public meetings, and I think it's very important for once that somebody puts a word in whosever ear they have to put it in to move these funds so that that building can be used for what they want to use it for. You can't hold a meeting someplace where it's not possible to do so. And when these renovations are completed, then these meetings can take place there and I think it's important that we move forward on that. I'd like to start by saying for the CDBG funds, that I would question some of these expenditures of money to certain entities. Johnson Technical Institute, $45,000 for automatic doorways at the main entrance. This is a tax-exempt organization that puts billboards all over. We can't even begin to assume where all their billboards are placed. They have a ton of money, okay, and I think they can afford to put their own doorway in, and I don't think it's being outrageous to say that. I think that's a misappropriation of these funds. The City of Scranton OECD for beautification projects for reconstruction of sidewalks and installation of period lighting, decorative planters, and trash receptacles, I think that should come out of the general budget of the city, okay? That' my opinion. Lackawanna College, a half a million dollars for the demolition of the former Scranton Lace building. You know something, I think that's theft, okay? We gave them the building basically that they're in. This gentleman got up and talked about the Mellow Auditorium, okay? They're building. a dormitory over there where the former JCC used to be, and now we're going to give them a half a million dollars to tear down a building and take it off the tax rolls, when in all reality, like I stated here a long time ago, that building should be converted into a small business incubator, because the amount of weight those floors can hold to rebuild an industrial tax base in this city and the amount of power that's in that building and its access to tractor-trailers, its dock space, all the other things that make it an absolute treasure to this city, to give them a half a million dollars to tear it down is theft. Well, I don't want to say we all know how most people feel about the parking garage okay? I mean, it's ridiculous. Now, it says here the City of Scranton OECD project delivery cost to provide funds for-project delivery costs associated with various economic development projects, $185,000. What projects are they? Because I don't know what they are. And maybe after-I'm done speaking, you can explain to the taxpayers on channel 61 exactly what that $185,000 is going to be used for. Repayment of Section 108 loans, maybe you can explain that. I think the taxpayers would like to know that. Now, Allied Services, they have billboards all over the place, too. They have people in their upper echelon making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, they're a multi-million dollar corporation, and we're going to give them $10,000 for an Allied supportive services rent and security subsidies program. Do you mean to tell me they need $10,000 out of this grant money to do that? I mean, it's ridiculous when you look at where this money is going. What I really think needs to happen to this money, I have a couple more here, but I'd like to say, what I really. think needs to be done with all this money I just mentioned, is we have to move this money into rehabbing neighborhoods, put that money into the city's neighborhood, all this money, all this right? Let's stop tearing blighted properties down before they reach the point of being blighted and being abandoned and let's reconstruct the neighborhoods. We've dumped all of our money into the downtown for decades, okay? It hasn't done anything. It's eroded the tax base. We have all of the KOEZ's going on. People talk about education, they talk about taxes, they talk about all this, well, everybody's getting a free ride and the average taxpayer is taking it on the chin. It's time to put that money where it belongs. You know, briefly, I question why all of this is taking place. I mean, isn't this Community Development funds? Shouldn't this development the community? I question your, you know, take a look at the things I said here and in your heart think about it and go down and talk to the Mayor. You know, there's a lot of things we can do here, but these things I mentioned, that's the wrong way. Thank you.

OECD Response:

Funds to pay project delivery costs cover necessary expenses that relate directly to our projects (advertising, preparation of bid packages, legal expenses, etc.). We use a “catch all” activity to capture these costs so that we can provide projects with the full grant amount. These funds meet the same eligibilty and National Objective requirements that the related projects meet.

Funds for repayment of Section 108 loans allow the City to meet its contractual obligation to HUD. Under a loan agreement executed in 1991, whereby the City received funds to assist the development of the Steamtown Mall, the City obligated future CDBG receipts to help make the necessary repayments.

Mike Dudek, Citizen of Scranton

In the 30 seconds that I requested, I'm asking Council to please act on Mr. Neveroski's request in a positive manner, okay? They've had public meetings month after month after month in church after church after church because they don't have the space. Please help him out. What they do in the Hill is magnificent. Thank you.


Institutional Structure

OECD will administer the formula grant programs covered by this Consolidated Plan with the assistance of two key administrative partners, as follows:

The Redevelopment Authority of the City of Scranton
The Authority will receive subgrants of CDBG funds to carry out various economic development projects to stimulate the local economy and to create permanent jobs, the majority of which will involve the employment of low- and moderate-income persons. The Authority will also receive subgrants of CDBG funds to carry out activities to eliminate slums and conditions of blight throughout the City.

Neighborhood Housing of Scranton
Neighborhood Housing of Scranton will administer the City’s homeowner housing rehabilitation program (the “rehab program”) and its lead-based paint hazard control program (the “lead program”) under sub-grant agreements. The rehab program will provide forgivable deferred-payment loans to low- and moderate-income persons, on a priority basis, to pay for the cost of improvements necessary to bring their home into compliance with the local building code. The lead program will provide funds, in the form of a grant, to low- and moderate-income families with children under the age of six years to pay for the cost of necessary activities to control the hazard presented by lead-based paint in their homes.

Additionally, OECD will continue to make funds available to qualified Community Housing Development Organizations (CHDOs), under the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, on an annual basis. The selected CHDOs will carry out eligible housing activities, such as the successful acquisition, rehabilitation, and resale (as affordable housing) program that has been administered by Lackawanna Neighbors in prior years.

OECD will continue to be responsible for the allocation of funds to various applicants and activities. The allocation will continue to be based on selection criteria that includes, but is not limited to:

• Eligibility (and compliance with a National Objective for CDBG projects);
• Need;
• Impact;
• Feasibility;
• Organizational capacity;
• Leveraging of other sources of funds; and
• Coordination with other initiatives, plans, or other proposed activities.

OECD will provide technical assistance, on matters related to the programs covered by this Consolidated Plan, to subgrantees and applicants, as requested.

Monitoring

The City occasionally subgrants a portion of its community development funds to eligible organizations that carry out activities, on behalf of the City, that achieve the goals and objectives of the Consolidated Plan. In these instances, OECD must monitor the subgrantees’ performance to provide reasonable assurance that the subgrantee complies with the regulations of the federal program(s) from which funds are provided.

OECD will require that any subgrantee sign a written agreement that contains provisions concerning: the statement of work (description of the specific activities to be undertaken with federal funds), records and reports to be maintained, program income (if applicable), and uniform administrative requirements. OECD will also perform a risk assessment of each subgrantee to help determine the nature and extent of monitoring procedures to be applied. For instance: if a particular subgrantee had administered federal programs without incident for many years, OECD might consider this entity to be “low-risk;” therefore, monitoring procedures to be applied to this subgrantee would be substantially less than those that would be applied to a subgrantee that had not previously administered federal programs.

OECD expects to perform these common monitoring procedures:

• Review of reports submitted by subgrantees
• Inquiry of key program personnel to ascertain information about program operations
• Re-calculation of amounts in subgrantee reports to verify clerical accuracy
• Re-performance of subgrantee activities to ensure compliance
• Inspection of programmatic records (on-site)
• Observation of programmatic operations (on-site)
• Review of subgrantees’ single audit or program-specific audit reports (if applicable) to identify any instances of noncompliance that may have been noted by independent auditors
• Review of subgrantees’ corrective action plans (required when single audit or program-specific audit reports include documented instances of noncompliance called “findings”) to determine that the subgrantees are taking the necessary actions to prevent future instances of similar noncompliance.

OECD will document the specific monitoring procedures applied to subgrantees in the appropriate project file.

Housing Market Analysis

Age

The City of Scranton’s (the “City’s”) population has declined sharply over the past seventy years, from a high mark of over 140,000 in the 1930’s to today’s low point of 76,415 (according to the 2000 census). Following is a breakdown of the City’s population by age:

• Under 20 years of age 25.1%
• Between 20 and 34 years of age 19.9%
• Between 35 and 54 years of age 26.3%
• Between 55 and 64 years of age 8.7%
• 65 years of age and over 20.2%

The median age in Scranton is 38.8 years; nationally, it is 35.3 years. The City’s senior population (20.2%) represents a much larger portion of the total than that which is reflected in the national average (12.4%).

Race/Ethnicity

Following is a breakdown of the City’s population by race (with national averages in parentheses):

• White 71,480 93.5% (75.1%)
• Black or African American 2,304 3.0% (12.3%)
• All others 2,631 3.5% (12.6%)

Of these, 1,999, or 2.6%, belong to the Hispanic/Latino ethnic group; nationally, 12.5% of persons belong to this ethnic group.

Family Income

Following is a breakdown of the City’s population by family income, determined on an annual basis, using 1999 dollars.

• Up to $14,999 13.5%
• $15,000 to $24,999 14.5%
• $25,000 to $34,999 15.9%
• $35,000 to $44,999 19.9%
• $50,000 to $74,999 21.2%
• $75,000 to $99,999 9.2%
• Over $99,999 5.8%

The median family income in Scranton is $39,233, which is 21.6% less than the national median family income ($50,046). The per capita income in the City is $16,174, which is 25.1% less than the national median family income ($21,587).

1,947 families, or 10.7% of all Scranton’s families and 10,827 individuals, or 15% of all Scrantonians, are living below the poverty level. These data compare unfavorably to the national averages: 9.2% of families and 12.4% of individuals.

Housing Characteristics

The median value of a home in the City is $78,200, which is 34.6% less than the national median value ($119,600). 81.7% of these homes were built prior to 1960. Since thirty years is considered to be a reasonable estimate of a home’s useful life, one can conclude that, due to the age of the housing stock, an overwhelming majority of the homes in Scranton are in need of extensive rehabilitation or have deteriorated to the point at which rehabilitation is not a cost-effective option.

54.5% of families residing in Scranton are homeowners, while nationally, 68% are homeowners.

Lead-based Paint

There are approximately 26,558 units in the City that contain lead-based paint hazards, according to the local community-based Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Project. We estimate that 20,929 of these units are occupied by low- and moderate-income families (actual data are not available).

In order to reduce lead-based paint hazards, the City has established a lead-based paint hazard control program with funds received from HUD, passed-through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health. This program, which is operating in cooperation with the local community-based Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Project, aims to make twenty-five residential units lead-safe over the next three years. It is administered by Neighborhood Housing of Scranton (“NHS”), on behalf of the City.

Since NHS also administers, the City’s homeowner housing rehabilitation efforts to reduce lead-based paint hazards are effectively integrated into that program as well. Prior to developing the scope of work for a particular rehabilitation project, NHS arranges for personnel from the City’s Department of Licensing, Inspections, and Permits inspect the subject property and report all code violations. If the inspectors’ report identifies a lead-based paint hazard, NHS orders a full risk assessment. Upon completion of the risk assessment, NHS ensures that the scope of work includes lead-based paint hazard reduction and procures a local certified lead contractor to perform the service. This component of the rehabilitation project is administered in the same manner as those projects that are part of the lead-based paint hazard control program.

Additional Market Analysis

The Housing Coalition of Lackawanna County contracted with Urban Research and Development Corporation (Bethlehem, PA), to conduct a Housing Assessment in Lackawanna County. In May 2004, A Housing Study of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania was published. Following is an excerpt from that plan’s “Executive Summary:”

Based on the research, the best strategy is one of advancing home ownership using single-family unit designs, primarily detached units and townhouses. This strategy should seek to serve households across all income groups. In addition, there is a need:

• For the re-conversion of multi-units back to the original single-family configuration;
• To increase the availability and quality of the affordable housing stock;
• To increase the number of market-rate and high-end housing units either through renovation or new construction;
• To increase the number of low- and moderate-income units through in-fill and renovation activities;
• To reduce the number of vacant, substandard, and absentee landlord properties; and
• To initiate larger-scale (whole block or neighborhood) housing revitalization initiatives.

Needs

Families are grouped into these types of households for the purpose of reporting housing needs:

• Elderly – A one or two person household in which the head of the household or spouse is at least 62 years of age.
• Small Related – A household of 2 to 4 persons that includes at least one person related to the householder by blood, marriage, or adoption.
• Large Related – A household of 5 or more persons that includes at least one person related to the householder by blood, marriage, or adoption.
• Other: - A household of one or more persons that does not meet the definition of an elderly, small related, or large related household.

Following is an examination of the housing needs of different categories of persons, grouped by household income and further grouped by type of household (see the Housing Needs Table in the Tables Appendix on page A-3 for further information):

Extremely low-income families

Those families whose annual incomes are less than 30% of the area median are considered to be extremely low-income. These families have the greatest amount of need for better, less expensive housing. According to the 2000 census data, almost 73% of the families in this category have “housing problems,” which include:

• Housing cost burden greater than 30% of family income;
• Overcrowding (1.01 or more persons per room); and
• Substandard housing (with or without complete kitchen or plumbing facilities).

These problems are most severe in the large families whose incomes are less than 30% of the area median, whether these families are homeowners or renters. In fact, almost two-thirds of the families in this subcategory are severely cost-burdened, meaning that over 50% of their incomes are needed for housing costs. Elderly homeowners in this income classification also demonstrate significant need (87.3% are cost-burdened).

Low-income families

Those families whose annual incomes are between 30% and 50% of the area median are considered to be low-income. For the most part, the families in this group are less needy than those in the extremely low-income group; however, the small related families who are homeowners in this subcategory (86.4% have housing problems, as defined above) are actually more needy than those in the small related families who are homeowners in the previous subcategory (74.9% have housing problems). Almost 60% of all homeowners and renters in this subcategory are experiencing housing problems.

Moderate-income families

Those families whose annual incomes are between 50% and 80% of the area median are considered to be moderate-income. There are more families in this subcategory than the other two. These families are less needy, in all cases, than extremely low- and low-income families; in fact, only 29.8% of these families are cost-burdened. Renters with moderate-incomes appear to have few housing problems; however, owners with moderate-incomes, except for the elderly, seem to be experiencing a fairly high level of cost burden (50.1%).

Following are the results of our examination of the housing needs of minority groups compared to the housing needs of the total population:

Black or African American

Extremely low-income Black or African American households meeting the definition of “other” that rent, demonstrate a need (89.7% have housing problems) that is disproportionately larger than the needs of all extremely low-income households meeting the definition of “other” that rent (70.6% have housing problems). Also, extremely low-income Black or African family homeowners experience housing problems 100% of the time, which indicates a disproportionately larger need than all extremely low-income homeowners, who experience housing problems 79% of the time.

Hispanic or Latino

Elderly Hispanic or Latino homeowners, who are included in the extremely-low income category, experience housing problems 100% of the time. Extremely low-income Hispanic or Latino homeowners meeting the definition of “other” also experience housing problems 100% of the time. These data indicate a disproportionately larger need than the total extremely low-income homeowners, who experience housing problems 76% of the time. Low-income Hispanic or Latino renters, whose households meet the definition of “other,” experience housing problems at a disproportionately greater rate (100%) than the total population of “other” low-income renters (80%). Also, 50% of moderate-income Hispanic or Latino renters, whose households meet the definition of “other,” experience housing problems; this indicates an unfavorable disproportion when compared to the total population of moderate-income “other” renters, who experience housing problems at rate of 16.2%

Priority Needs

The analysis of housing needs by income category and type of household indicates that extremely low-income and low-income families are struggling with heavy housing cost burdens to a much higher degree than moderate-income families. This fact becomes clearer upon further study of the problems faced by minority groups within these subcategories.

The housing market analysis indicates that Scranton’s housing stock needs to be renewed. Older houses that cannot be rehabilitated should be demolished (especially if these homes are vacant); those older homes that can be “saved” should be improved. The City should also encourage new construction and should help to ensure that some of the newly constructed units are made available to extremely-low, low-, and moderate-income persons, as affordable housing.

The fact that Scranton’s rate of homeownership lags far behind the national rate is troublesome. The City should encourage homeownership through its housing programs and should develop partnerships with lending institutions and nonprofit housing agencies to ensure that prospective homeowners do not fall victim to predatory lending and receive proper homeownership counseling.

Obstacles to Meeting Underserved Needs

The most obvious obstacle to meeting underserved needs is a cultural/language barrier that exists between primarily English-speaking white persons, who comprise the overwhelming majority of the City’s population, and persons to whom English is a second language (this barrier is most obviously present in the growing Hispanic/Latino community). For this reason, it is important that all housing agencies place a priority onmaking their services easily accessible to these persons. In order to accomplish this goal, social service agencies should make informational materials and applications available in several languages, should make interpreter/translator services available, and should look favorably upon bilingual job applicants.

Economic factors present an obstacle to meeting underserved needs. Landlords and homeowners often allow their properties to deteriorate over time, believing that the costs incurred to undertake certain repairs or improvements will not be realized through an increase in the value of the home (and the resulting increase in the home’s prospective sale price or market rents). Given the age of Scranton’s housing stock, in the absence of frequent and substantial home rehabilitation projects, it will become increasingly difficult to provide an adequate amount of decent, affordable housing units.

Strategies

The City will reevaluate its current housing programs, the homeowner assistance program and the homeowner rehabilitation program, to consider providing amounts of assistance to extremely low- and low-income families that are greater than those provided to moderate-income families. (Last year, the City reengineered both programs to allow for forgiveness or more rapid forgiveness of the deferred-payment loans provided to families that participate in these programs in response to an abundance of problems that families who had participated in these programs in prior years were facing when trying to sell their homes)

We will encourage homeownership through a more generous homeownership assistance program and through homeownership outreach efforts undertaken in partnership with the Lackawanna Housing Coalition.

Scranton will continue its aggressive enforcement of code violations (including lead-based paint hazards) and strict monitoring of landlords, especially absentee landlords, in order to improve the condition of the existing housing stock. Vacant properties and hazardous structures will be condemned and demolished; the resulting vacant land will be redeveloped, perhaps as part of a scattered-site affordable housing project. Also, we will provide assistance to income-eligible families to carry out lead-based paint hazard control activities.

The City will also attempt to strengthen its partnerships with lending institutions in order to ensure that affordable financing is available to potential homebuyers, especially those whose incomes are below 80% of the area median. We will also attempt to attract private investment in affordable housing initiatives through these partnerships.

We will strengthen our partnerships with nonprofit housing agencies, especially through active participation in the Lackawanna Housing Coalition’s activities. We will attempt to develop, with these partners, a housing program to ease renters’ cost burden. As part of this initiative, cooperative efforts to remove the language barrier will be undertaken.

Additional Strategies

Following is the “funding strategy” set forth in A Housing Study of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania:

Private developers and non-profit organizations are seen as playing the largest role in developing future housing opportunities. It is anticipated that the funding scheme would primarily be a public-private mix, utilizing a fairly balanced mix of private, federal, state, and county/local funding sources. Private financing sources will make up the largest component and county/local funds will make up the smallest component of the funding mix.

Specific Objectives

1. We will provide greater amounts of financial assistance to extremely low- and low-income families than moderate-income families, on a per family basis, through the City’s housing programs, in order to ease the cost burden on the neediest subcategories of the population.

2. We will encourage homeownership through various programs in an effort to bring Scranton’s homeownership rate into balance with the national rate.

3. We will eliminate slums and conditions of blight through demolition of blighted, vacant, and hazardous structures.

4. will provide assistance to income-eligible families to carry out lead-based paint hazard control activities5. We will break down the anguage/cultural barriers to afford access to information about the available housing programs to groups that have difficulty speaking and/or understanding the English language.

6. We will work with the Lackawanna Housing Coalition to accomplish the goals and objectives stated in A Housing Study of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania.

III Public Housing

Using the traditional “Public Housing Program,” Public Housing Authorities (“PHAs”) developed, owned, and operated public housing units for low-income households. Methods used to provide these housing units included new construction and rehabilitation of existing units. Under the “turn key” method, the PHA invited private developers to submit proposals for construction of the development, with the PHA purchasing the units after completion. In the “conventional” construction method, the PHA acted as its own developer and was responsible for all aspects of housing development. Under the acquisition aspect of the Public Housing Program, the PHA acquired existing housing units, with or without rehabilitation from the private market.

The local PHA is the Scranton Housing Authority (the “SHA”). Legal Authority for the Public Housing Program is provided in the U.S. Housing Act of 1937 (P.L. 74-412) and Title II of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-383).

Assessment of public housing needs requires consideration of several key factors, including characteristics of public housing inventory (i.e., age, type, number of units), size of the SHA, and characteristics of the SHA demographics – particularly income. It should be noted that the majority of the City’s public housing units were constructed during a 30-year period, roughly between 1937 and 1967; these old units are costly to maintain. Also, there have been no new public housing units constructed since the 1980’s, when public housing was completed in the City of Scranton.

Currently, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) provides funding for the SHA’s operations and for capital improvements under formula grants. The Capital Fund Program (“CFP”) is an example of such a formula grant. Over the past five years, the SHA has received an average of $2.4 million on an annual basis.

Public Housing Needs

Scranton’s inventory of assisted rental housing includes 2,264 units assisted by the SHA. These units have been assisted through government programs which helped pay the cost of developing those units. In some cases, these units continue to receive assistance to cover ongoing rental costs. Of this total, there are 933 rental units which are subsidized through Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. These units receive ongoing rental assistance which covers all or a portion of the rental costs for those units, making them affordable for very low-income households.

Currently, there are 60 households on the waiting list for public housing units and 490 households are on a waiting list for the Section 8 Program.

The SHA provides public housing for 4,278 residents in 1,325 units. Some of the obsolete units are anticipated to be lost due to housing demolition. They would be replaced by newer more spacious dwellings. SHA is currently experiencing a high vacancy rate in its high rise buildings and is currently converting efficiency apartments into one-bedroom apartments. This should make vacant units more marketable.

All of the public housing units will be assisted through HUD’s Capital Fund Program. SHA’s Capital Fund Program provides the financial resources to implement physical and management improvements throughout its developments. Attachments 11 and 12 from SHA’s current Agency Plan are included as Attachments A7-A16 of the Consolidated Plan in the Tables Appendix.

Various supportive services are provided to SHA residents, including: transportation, health services, ice cream socials, holiday dinners, food distribution programs, entertainment (live music and bingo), and special events during the holiday periods.

Plans for empowering public housing residents include the on-going effort in developing resident councils. As the SHA continues to modernize their developments, a minimum of 5 percent of units will be upgraded to accommodate Section 504 recipients.

Since its inception, the SHA has been an integral component in providing housing for low to moderate income families and the elderly. The SHA was one of the first in the nation to take a strong and decisive action against drugs and created a strict eviction policy for drug traffickers. The SHA has displayed outstanding leadership in carrying out its mission of providing safe, decent and affordable housing for eligible individuals and families through creative and supportive services. The SHA will assist these individuals and families as they strive to achieve self-sufficiency and improve the quality of their lives.

In the following table, an “elderly” development is one that requires residents to be at least 62 years of age, handicapped or disabled. Elderly apartments are usually one bedroom or efficiency units. “Family” projects usually require that residents be households of two or more persons, including at least one dependent child. Bedroom composition of family apartments is usually two, three, four, or five.

Modernized developments provide handicap-accessible units as a certain percentage of overall units. Although many older developments, public and private, do not include handicap-accessible units as part of their composition, some may have units designed for persons with disabilities or may be able to modify apartments to meet specific needs. The SHA has been responsive in accommodating persons with disabilities.

Public Housing Strategies

The SHA, in conjunction with the residents of the 45 scattered-site units, has prepared a plan to give the residents of these public housing units an opportunity to become homeowners under Section 5(h) of the Housing Act of 1937. The proposed sale of the units is based on the interest, ability and potential ability of the residents to become self-sufficient homebuyers. The City will support this initiative and will consider developing a program to assist residents of public housing in their efforts to become homeowners.

We will encourage public housing residents to become more involved in the management of public housing through the Agency Plan and assist public housing residents to become owners of their public housing unit. The SHA will continue its on-going efforts to organize resident councils.

The City and the SHA in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies will maintain and/or establish anti-crime programs in public housing. Such programs will include the removal of all persons not listed on the dwelling lease agreement and the requirement of housing identification for all authorized residents. In doing so, we will promote a safe atmosphere and provide greater incentive for residents to support lawful behavior.

IV Homelessness


Background Information

The City of Scranton (the “City”) coordinates its efforts to meet the needs of its homeless population with those local organizations that provide housing and supportive services to homeless persons and those at imminent risk of becoming homeless through its participation in the Lackawanna County Housing Coalition (the “Coalition”). The Coalition, which was formed in 1992, developed a Continuum of Care (“CoC”) for homeless individuals and families four years later; since that time, it has operated the Scranton/Lackawanna CoC Planning Committee that is comprised of fifty member agencies, organizations, governments, and individuals. The CoC Planning Committee works to assess the needs of homeless persons and to coordinate housing and supportive services to homeless persons on a systematic and strategic basis. This institutional structure helps to ensure that limited resources are used in an efficient and effective manner.

Needs

The general needs of the homeless population are identified by various service providers in the normal course of operation. These needs are shared with other service providers as part of continuing dialogue at the Housing Coalition/Continuum of Care Planning meetings. The Coalition forms subcommittees to address emerging issues, as a result of these discussions. For example: there are subcommittees established to address the need to:

• Identify and attract additional funding sources for homeless services;
• End chronic homelessness;
• Provide additional emergency shelter facilities;
• Develop a discharge coordination policy; and
• Develop a Homeless Management Information System (“HMIS”).

The Coalition also conducts annual surveys and monthly point-in-time surveys of homeless persons to identify specific needs. The results of these surveys help to shape the priorities that the Coalition assigns to each of its endeavors.

The local service providers, through participation in the Coalition, have continued to increase their capacity to provide necessary services to homeless persons; however these agencies have experienced a substantial increase in demand for these services. Data collected by the Coalition indicates that the homeless population has grown. Compounding the problem, recent Economic data suggests that the gap between income/wages and housing costs is widening.


The Coalition and the City have separated the homeless population into two categories: unaccompanied homeless individuals (including those who are chronically homeless) and homeless families with children. Currently, the Coalition estimates that there are approximately 237 unaccompanied homeless individuals and approximately 253 homeless adults with families (approximately 177 children) in the Greater Scranton area. Further, the Coalition states that 45 to 50 of the persons in this group are considered to be chronically homeless, according to this U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) definition:

An unaccompanied homeless individual with a disabling condition who has either been continuously homeless for a year or more OR has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.

Data supplied by the service providers indicates that this homeless population represents racial and ethnic groups according to these ranges:

White, non Hispanic 63-67%
Black, non Hispanic 24-28%
Hispanic 7-10%
Asian, Pacific Islander < 1%
American Indian/Alaskan Native < 1%

While the needs of those in one category may be similar to those in the other, studying the respective needs separately allows for a more accurate assessment.

Needs of Unaccompanied Homeless Individuals

Unaccompanied individuals become homeless for a variety of reasons; but, since they are not responsible for others (unlike homeless adults with children), it would seem that affordable permanent housing would be more easily accessed. In many cases, however, service providers have found that not to be the case. Often, homeless individuals and couples have become disillusioned with the “system,” believing that it has abandoned them. The feeling of hopelessness is often compounded by substance abuse or mental illness. In these instances, service providers are not able to effectively meet the needs of this subpopulation, which is likely to become chronically homeless.

Of course, many homeless individuals and couples work closely with the service providers in pursuit of permanent affordable housing. Often, these individuals encounter difficulties in accessing this housing because of past criminal charges or poor credit history. Even those who had been successful in locating housing in the past are experiencing difficulty now because the supply of single-room occupancy apartment buildings has diminished in the wake of several condemnations (a deadly fire at such a shelter last year prompted City code officers to inspect these types of buildings; upon discovering a multitude of code violations, the inspectors condemned several apartment buildings).

Catholic Social Services (“CSS”) experienced an increase in demand for its services that can be correlated to the reduction in the supply of single-room occupancy apartment buildings. CSS operates St. Anthony’s Haven (the “Haven”), an emergency shelter for homeless persons. The Haven provided 6,969 shelter nights and complementing social services for 555 homeless adults in program year 2004. In the previous year, the Haven had provided 6,844 shelter nights and complementing social services for 741 homeless adults. The data indicate that it was more difficult for CSS to place its clientele in permanent housing during the most recent year than it had been in the prior year; accordingly, CSS was not able to provide service to as many individuals. During our harsh winter season, the Haven was at full capacity and CSS was not able to fully accommodate its clientele; therefore, the Coalition was forced to use scarce resources to provide more costly forms of emergency shelter for several homeless persons, such as hotel/motel rooms.

Unaccompanied homeless individuals and couples need better access to emergency shelters and single-room occupancy apartment buildings, in the short-term. In the long-term, however, the need for shelter would be better satisfied through the provision of affordable permanent housing and the supportive services that are necessary to prevent future episodes of homelessness, especially among the chronically homeless. Also, the service providers need to discover how to “reach out” to the disenfranchised portion of this subpopulation that has become increasingly difficult to serve.

Needs of Homeless Families with Children

Homeless families with children often cite these factors as contributing to their homelessness:

• Inconsistent and unreliable receipt of child support payments
• Chronic underemployment and/or unemployment due to a lack of basic skills (this issue becomes more apparent during periods of high unemployment, such as that which we have experienced locally over the past two years)
• Difficulties with implementing effective household budgeting and personal financial management (which has often contributed to poor credit history, past due balances with utilities companies, and past due balances with public housing authorities)
• Addictions to drugs and alcohol
• Limited knowledge of landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities


Other families face discrimination as they search for affordable permanent housing. The most frequent forms of discrimination reported involve incidents where families that are denied housing believe that the decision was based in part on a prejudice against the race/ethnic group to which they belong or their Nationality (this sentiment has been expressed in particular by the growing Latino population). Frequent incidents of alleged discrimination also relate to familial status (especially in the case of large families), and families with adults or children living with disabilities.

The agencies working with this subpopulation have experienced an increase in demand for their services. Women’s Resource Center (“WRC”), a 17-bed emergency shelter for battered women and children, provided 3,952 shelter nights in program year 2004, which represents an increase of 17.6% over the amount of shelter nights (3,361) provided in the previous year. Unfortunately, this increase in shelter nights was accompanied by a decrease in families served: WRC had served 17 fewer women in 2004 than in the prior year. Other agencies that provide services to homeless families with children, such as the Catherine McAuley Center, reported similar statistics. Apparently, homeless families with children had experienced difficulties in obtaining access to affordable permanent housing in a manner similar to the problems faced by homeless individuals and couples.

These agencies report two outstanding barriers that affect their attempts to place clients in affordable permanent housing:

• An incongruity between the income limits associated with subsidized housing and the income that a family would need to earn in order to afford “market rents;” and
• The relatively low score assigned to homeless families on the public housing authority’s waiting list through its priority ranking system.

Homeless families with children need better access to affordable permanent housing and assurances that they will not be discriminated against. Once that access has been provided, they need continuing supportive services to help them become self-sufficient and to prevent future instances of homelessness.

Priority Needs

The City and the CoC Planning Committee identified our homeless and homeless prevention priorities using data provided by the service providers. The needs of each category of residents, as determined on a qualitative and quantitative basis by these service providers, were the basis for determining the relative priority of each homeless need category. These priorities are indicated in Table 1A, located in the Tables Appendix on page A-1.

HUD and the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness have suggested that communities should focus efforts on assisting those experiencing chronic homelessness because industry data has shown that this subgroup represents just 10% of the homeless population but consumes over 50% of the public resources. These resources include emergency medical services, psychiatric treatment, detoxification facilities, shelters, and law enforcement/corrections services. Accordingly, the City considers services to the chronically homeless to be a high priority.

Homeless Inventory

Following is a summary of the existing facilities and services that assist homeless persons and families with children in the Scranton area:

United Neighborhood Centers

One-Stop Shop for Housing

The “One-Stop Shop” (the “OSS”) for housing is a clearinghouse for both information and assistance regarding housing and housing related services. The OSS offers guidance to people in need of safe, decent affordable housing, valuable resources on housing issues and housing related services, information seminars and general advocacy services. The OSS can also direct clients to resource persons who are familiar with the legal and financial processes involved in securing and maintaining affordable housing. The OSS also provides coordination of services and follow-up when needed. During FY 2003-2004 there were 743 clients who sought services from the OSS. This was a 13% increase of the 2002-2003 year when 656 clients were served. During FY 2003-2004 the program served 238 individuals and families who sought services because they being evicted; 34 homeless couples; 199 homeless families and 132 homeless singles.

Transitional Housing and Supportive Services

The Transitional Housing and Supportive Services Program provide housing and supportive services for homeless families. This program allows families to stay together in safe, comfortable apartments while pursuing self-sufficiency goals and permanent housing. Homeless families are identified through the OSS program or referred by other local social service agencies. Participants can stay in this program for up to two years. Program services include case management, budgeting, job training, childcare, transportation, parenting, anger management, among others. During 2003-2004 there were 29 homeless families assisted through this program representing a total of 103 homeless persons in families.

Foreclosure Prevention

In September 2003, United Neighborhood Centers implemented a Foreclosure Prevention Program. After being trained at Neighborhood Reinvestment Institute, housing counselors were able to provide loss mitigation and default counseling to homeowners who were in foreclosure or otherwise delinquent with mortgage payments. Between September 2003 and July 30, 2004, 47 people contacted UNC for assistance through this program. Possible options for families facing this crisis include forbearance agreements, repayment plans, loan modifications, short sales, streamline refinance, partial claims and deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. The counseling process generally involves negotiations with the mortgage holders, budget developments, credit analysis and options counseling.

Condemnation Program

Through a grant from the City of Scranton, United Neighborhood Centers provides emergency short-term housing and subsidies to cover reasonable living expenses for residents who are in need of housing because their home or apartment was condemned. Families are also assisted in finding new housing if they cannot return to the condemned property. During FY 2003-2004 there were 77 condemnations as compared to the previous year when there were 48 for the fiscal year. The increase in condemnations has lead to a larger drain on housing and homeless resources within the community.

Emergency Food Program

United Neighborhood Centers distributes food to those in need. Food comes from community donations (especially the Feed-A-Friend program, Postal Workers Food Drive and the Boy Scouts Food Drive), the State Food Program which provides a nutritionally balanced food order to needy families with children, and the Emergency Food Assistance Program. During the first nine months of FY 2003-2004 UNC served 1,505 unduplicated households with emergency food baskets. During the same time period of FY 2002-2003 the agency served unduplicated 1,372 households so there was an increase of 9.7%.

Women’s Resource Center

The Women's Resource Center's safe-house provides emergency shelter to women and their children who are homeless due to domestic violence. Emergency shelter is provided for up to 45 days to ensure that these women and their children are able to live in a safe environment while they attempt to secure safe, affordable permanent housing. While at the shelter, residents have access to housing advocacy services, legal advocacy services, case management, transportation assistance, and counseling services. Residents are also assisted with pursuing civil legal remedies through the services of the Women’s Resource Center's legal clinic.

During FY 2002/2003, the Women’s Resource Center provided shelter to 66 women and 58 of their children for a total of 3,361 nights. In the previous year, the Women’s Resource Center provided shelter to 83 women and 94 of their children for a total of 3,952 nights.

Catherine McAuley Center

Annex/Emergency Shelter

This three-bedroom, thirty-day residence provides shelter for homeless women with or without children. Services available to residents include shelter, case management, links to community resources, transportation, housing counseling, vocational assistance, health service referrals, and food. During FY 2003/2004, the shelter served 74 women and children.

Bridge Transition Housing Program

This scattered-site, transitional residential program assists homeless women with or without children. Services include aid in finding an apartment, rental assistance for up to one year, furniture, household items and personal supplies, the physical move, intensive case management, weekly educational sessions, links to community services, assistance in finding employment and job training, art therapy, recreational opportunities. During FY 2003/2004, this Program served 39 women and children.

Supportive Housing Program

This scattered-site, transitional residential program serves women and children who are victims of domestic violence and homeless women and children. All services listed under the Bridge Program are also offered in this program. During FY 2003/2004, 83 women and children were served. This was an increase of 60% over the 52 persons that were served in the prior year.

Single Room Occupancy – Frances Warde House

This SRO assists very low-income women who come with a variety of problems. Some come from prison. They pay a small rent per week. During FY 2003/2004, 28 women were served. This was an increase of 87% over the 15 persons served in the prior year.

Family Support Program

This Program assists the near homeless with emergency services such as food, personal supplies, housing counseling, and referrals. During FY 2003/2004, 532 people were served. This represents an increase of 7% over the 499 persons that were served the year before.

Christmas Adopt-A-Family Program

Homeless and low-income persons, primarily women and children, are assisted with Christmas gifts, such as clothes, food, household items, and toys. This service allows these families to provide their children with gifts, without using their household income, which is needed to pay costs, such as rent and utilities. During FY 2003/2004, 1,130 were people served. This represents an increase of 7% from 1,054 persons served in the prior year.

Catholic Social Services

Mental Health Homeless Program

The MH Homeless Program provides quality residential services to homeless mentally ill individuals. The residents receive counseling, life skills activities and other services in a structured 24 hour residential setting. The Program is aimed at helping the client become self-sufficient and be able to live on his own in an independent living situation. This is a six-bed program licensed by the Department of Mental Health. During FY 2003-2004, 23 individuals were provided with residential services for a total of 1,900 nights. During the previous year, 30 individuals were provided with residential services for a total of 1,714 nights.

Veterans Chronic Mentally Ill Homeless Program

The VA-CMIH Program is a 24 hour residential program for mentally ill homeless veterans. The Veterans Administration designates the time a veteran will participate in the Program. This is usually 30 to 90 days. This program offers counseling, life skills activities, personal hygiene care, budget counseling, etc. to the veteran. There is a six-bed capacity and funding is through a contract with the Veterans Administration. During FY 2003/2004, the program provided 25 individuals with residential services for a total of 1,248 nights. In the previous year, it had provided 24 individuals (23 men/1 woman) with residential services for a total of 1,304 nights.

Veterans Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program

The VA/ADT Program is a community halfway house/recovery home for alcohol and/or drug dependence treatment of veterans referred by the VA Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre, PA. The Program provides a specialized, substance-free social environment and is a transitional supportive living arrangement, prior to reentry into family and/or community life. Residents are taught self-help skills through assuming responsibility for their personal space, household chores, employment, etc. During FY 2003/2004, the program provided 20 individuals with residential services for a total of 911 nights. In the previous year, it had served 17 individuals for a total of 953 nights.

VA-SRO Supportive Housing Program

This program for 8 homeless veterans and individuals is a Single-Room Occupancy-Transitional Housing Service. Catholic Social Services and the Community Intervention Center have partnered to provide Case Management and Counseling Services to help assist homeless individuals toward independence and self-sufficiency. During FY 2003/2004, 20 individuals were provided with residential services for a total of 2,427 nights. In the previous year, 19 individuals were provided with these services for a total of 2,302 nights.

St. Anthony’s Haven/Men’s and Women’s Shelter

St. Anthony's Haven, which operates 365 days per year, accommodates 20 men and 4 women, with separate facilities for each gender. The facility offers a clean and safe place to sleep, a light meal, shower facilities, laundry services, and an atmosphere in which its clients can to share companionship with one another. Referrals to appropriate service providers are provided. The basic needs for an individual are provided for at St. Anthony's and expanded on by utilizing the services and programs of its parent agency to secure housing. All individuals are given the full range of available Shelter services: reserving placement each night, evening meals, showers, laundry facilities and a bag lunch for work the next day. These services prove to be essential in developing a sense of security for each program client. During FY 2003/2004, the shelter provided 6,969 nights of shelter and complementing social services for 470 men and 85 women who were homeless. In the prior year, the shelter had provided 6,844 nights of shelter and complementing social services for 614 men and 127 women who were homeless.

Homeless Case Management and Housing Counseling Programs

These programs assist clients in establishing a solid foundation of self-support and money management. During the 2002/2003 and 2003/2004 reporting periods, these programs provided contracted services for 130 individual cases who were unable to maintain an adequate standard of living. Each individual case was provided with emergency shelter at St. Anthony’s Haven/Men’s & Women’s Shelter. In most cases, clients were allotted the necessary time needed to successfully complete the program and were given the full range of available Shelter services.

Community Corrections Program

This thirty-bed program maintains contracts with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and the Federal Bureau of Prisons to provide residential and pre-release services to inmates preparing to be paroled or discharged to the community. This program, which is offered in a secured facility, provides counseling, job training, job referrals, urinalysis, Alcoholic Anonymous meetings, life skills activities, and other necessary services. During FY 2003/2004, 154 individuals were accepted into the program for a total of 10,173 nights of service. In the prior year, 172 individuals were accepted into the program for a total of 11,725 nights of service.

Hispanic Outreach Program

This program helps to assimilate Spanish-speaking persons into the community. Catholic Social Services provides translation/interpretation services, English Language Training Classes, Immigration Services, referral services, crisis intervention and educational programs. The program’s goal is ultimately to help these clients become self-sufficient and to allow them to play integral role in our community. During FY 2003/2004, these services were provided to a total of 752 cases/1,857 individuals. During FY 2002/2003, services were provided to a total of 714 cases/1,765 individuals.

HIV/AIDS Case Management Program

The HIV/AIDS Case Management Program assists clients with Social Security applications and Department of Public Welfare Programs, transportation, medical/dental needs, prescriptions and nutritional supports, home health care/hospice, housing (HOWPA), food, utilities, and also emotional support to the client and the family. During FY 2003/2004, services were provided to a total of 187 individuals. In the prior year, services were provided to a total of 119 individuals.

Refugee Resettlement/ Social Services/Immigration Program

Catholic Social Services has actively been involved in resettlement of refugees of many nations. The Refugee Social Services program provides job development and English language training services to refugees who have been in the United States for less than five years. Services provided under these programs include: reception and placement/resettlement, English language training, employment development, translation/interpretation, immigration services, and liaison services. During FY 2003/2004, services were provided to a total of 553 individuals. In the prior year, services in these programs were provided to were provided to a total of 480 individuals.

St. Joseph’s Center

Maternity and Family Services

St. Joseph’s Center Maternity and Family Services provides a variety of residential and adoption services to women who are experiencing unplanned pregnancies and families who are struggling to raise infants and young children. In the four-bed shelter for homeless pregnant women, the program served 31 women over the past two years; however, 35 other women were not able to be served because the shelter was at full capacity (these women were placed on a waiting list). Case Managers work with the pregnant women to develop a plan for safe, affordable permanent housing.

St. Joseph’s Center also offers a “Baby Pantry” as a community service program. This pantry provides baby food, formula, diapers, clothing, and furnishings to needy families. The target population for the Pantry is women who are pregnant and families with children up to one year of age. During fiscal year 2004, 377 families visited the pantry. This represents a 36% increase over the 277 visits from the prior year.

Scranton Primary Health Care Center

The Center provides medical and dental services to homeless persons. This program has served over 200 homeless persons in the last two years; the Center estimates that it will serve close to 200 persons this year.

Strategies

The Coalition has made recent strides towards meeting the needs of the homeless population that are presented herein. Following is a summary of these accomplishments:

• Last year, the Scranton/Lackawanna Continuum of Care (the “CoC”) was awarded the largest grant in the community’s history for HUD Supportive Housing Program funding ($1,769,963).

• The CoC and its Subcommittee to End Chronic Homelessness issued the 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness on April 26, 2004. The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness Executive Director Phillip Mangano described the plan (which is available for review in the Office of Economic and Community Development) as a strategy that “rises above partisanship and polarization to a planful partnership of public, private, and faith-based sectors that is a model for cities and counties of similar size across our country.”

• During 2003-2004, Scranton initiated the implementation of monthly point-in-time surveys. This process has helped the community to more clearly understand the causes of homelessness, better track the number of chronic homeless persons in the community, and identify the needs for all homeless persons.

• During the last year, a subcommittee on discharge planning has been meeting quarterly. The group has established a protocol for communication between institutional settings and housing/homeless providers. The monthly point-in-time surveys have also helped identify homeless persons who became homeless following discharge from an institutional setting. Cases reviews are planned for the next year to identify strategies for preventing discharge to homelessness.

• The community began the first Permanent Supportive Housing Program for the Chronically Homeless on July 1, 2004. This project targets eight chronically homeless persons for placement in permanent supportive housing.

• Several new outreach initiatives that have helped service providers to better identify the chronically homeless persons in the community have begun recently.

• In July 2004, the community began the implementation process of the countywide Homeless Management Information System (“HMIS”) for Scranton/Lackawanna County.

With these accomplishments in mind, the City and the Coalition will continue to partner in meeting the needs of the homeless community.

All of the efforts that will be undertaken in the near future will be based on a “Housing First” premise. In its 2004 report on homeless prevention activities, the consulting firm, LaFrance Associates, says:

Unlike programs that are designed to help people become “ready for housing,” Housing First programs’ first priority is to stabilize people in the short-term and help them get housed immediately. By helping participants become housed and connected to mainstream services, Housing First programs can help prevent people from entering or help them rapidly exit the homeless service system.

This program will consist of three facets:

Close the “Front Door” (Prevention)

The homeless service delivery system is designed to effectively meet the needs of homeless persons; however, the attention concentrated on building the capacity of this system has distracted service providers from efforts to prevent instances of homelessness. By gaining a better understanding of the reasons people become homeless, the service providers can focus on this loftier goal and prevent individuals from entering the “system.”

Open the “Back Door” (Intervention)
Specific objectives will be designed to increase the supply of affordable housing and access to this housing. Service providers will attempt place clientele in housing as quickly as possible to remove them from the “system.”

Build the Infrastructure to End Homelessness
In order to ensure that the individuals placed in permanent housing are able to remain housed, the service providers must advocate for these clients. Efforts will be made to increase the supply of affordable housing and increase income for the most poor community members.

This “Housing First” approach will be applied to each subpopulation, but the City and the Coalition will also implement strategies designed specifically to benefit the subpopulations, as follows:

Unaccompanied Homeless Individuals

The lack of affordable housing is a central reason many individuals become homeless and remain homeless for long periods of time. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there is a nationwide problem with the disparity between wages and housing costs. In no community across the country can a person work full-time at minimum wage and afford the fair market rent for a one-bedroom apartment. Efforts will be undertaken to increase the supply of affordable housing in Scranton and to increase incomes for our poorest community members.

Last year, the CoC was successful in convincing the Scranton Housing Authority to re-examine its policy on review of its applicants’ criminal background information. In the future, the Authority will only consider criminal background information from the last seven years in determining an applicant’s eligibility for placement in public housing.

Homeless Families with Children

The City is aware of the difficulties families face in accessing subsidized housing and is working with the Housing Coalition and the Scranton Housing Authority to develop a better approach to serving those families most in need of immediate affordable housing. Social service agencies in the community continue to struggle to meet the multiple needs and barriers that exist among homeless families.

The City of Scranton Human Relations Commission has been actively working to further fair housing initiatives and to address all forms of discrimination. In December 2003, the City of Scranton adopted a comprehensive Human Relations Commission Ordinance regarding employment, housing, real estate and public accommodation, protecting these classes: Race, Color, Religion, National Origin, Ancestry or Place of Birth, Sex, Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation, Disability, Marital Status, Family Status (in housing only) or Age or because of the protected class of an individual with whom the person is know to have an association. This newly formed Commission is working actively with Fair Housing Advocates to educate residents of the City of Scranton regarding this new legislation.

Chronically Homeless

The City and the Coalition will implement the strategies and objectives indicated in the 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness, which consists of action steps that reflect the “Housing First” approach.

Specific Objectives

Unaccompanied Homeless Individuals

1. In order to prevent homelessness:

a. We wish to prevent evictions by:

i. Developing an eviction prevention program with district magistrates;
ii. Facilitating workshops on renter’s responsibilities and landlord/tenant relations;
iii. Facilitating budget programs for homeless persons (especially those who were formerly chronically homeless); and
iv. Developing a homeless prevention plan with landlords and homeless service providers.

b. We wish to increase wages and provide for income stability by:

i. Facilitating job assistance opportunities;
ii. Reducing the number of homeless persons who lose employment (especially among the chronically homeless); and
iii. Assisting homeless persons in applying for disability subsidies.

c. We wish to develop a strategy to address the root causes of homelessness by:

i. Collecting data on the reasons for homelessness; and
ii. Developing a community response for each reason for homelessness.

d. We wish to reduce the number of women who become homeless as a result of domestic violence by:

i. Increasing the availability to legal services for homeless victims of domestic violence;
ii. Educating police about batterer accountability; and
iii. Educating judges and district magistrates about batterer accountability.

e. We wish to reduce the referrals/discharges to shelters from institutional settings by:

i. Working with the Discharge Planning Committee to create a partnership between institutional settings (hospitals, prisons, foster care, treatment centers, etc.) and homeless service providers; and
ii. Examining each case of discharge to homelessness to determine the incidence in order to develop a strategy to prevent homelessness among persons leaving institutions.

2. In order to intervene on behalf of the homeless:

a. We wish to better identify those individuals who are homeless by:

i. Providing an unduplicated count of homeless persons (especially those who are chronically homeless); and
ii. Implementing the HMIS to enable coordination among all service providers.

b. We wish to ensure that no homeless person ever sleeps in a place unfit for human habitation by:

i. Retaining existing facilities for emergency shelter and assisting with improvement in accessibility, safety and operational or energy efficiency, where necessary; and

ii. Continuing to provide a coordinated response between the City’s Office of Licenses, Inspections, and Permits (responsible for code enforcement), OECD (providers of financial assistance for transitional housing programs), and United Neighborhood Centers (administrators of transitional housing programs).

c. We wish to make affordable permanent housing available by:

i. Assisting community-based agencies to continue with and expand existing permanent supportive housing and transitional housing facilities to serve unaccompanied homeless individuals; and
ii. Supporting the development of permanent supportive housing programs to serve chronically homeless persons and special needs populations.

d. We wish to reduce the barriers that prevent homeless individuals, especially those who are chronically homeless from getting permanent housing by:

i. Increasing access to Public Housing
ii. Increasing access to drug and alcohol treatment
iii. Reducing the barriers associated with accessing mental health services
iv. Increasing employment opportunities
v. Ensuring medical/dental care for all homeless persons, especially the chronically homeless.

3. In order to build the infrastructure to end homelessness:

a. We will assist community-based organizations and others, including private developers, in creating quality, affordable rental units in the City of Scranton, especially efficiency units and one-bedroom units for non-elderly persons.

b. We will increase the availability of supportive services to homeless persons who get housing so that they can maintain that housing thus ending the cycle of chronic homelessness.

c. We will support efforts to create wage and benefits that allow households to pay for basic expenses, especially housing, thereby reducing the number of persons living in poverty.

Homeless Families With Children

4. In order to prevent homelessness:

a. We wish to develop a profile of the needs and characteristics of homeless families by:

i. Creating a universal intake form for service providers;
ii. Implementing HMIS across all homeless service providers; and
iii. Examining the demographics of the families who are evicted or become homeless for other reasons.

b. We wish to reduce the number of families who become homeless as a result of eviction by:

i. Examining the data regarding evictions within the City of Scranton;
ii. Reassessing the current system of service provision to prevent homelessness;
iii. Providing budget counseling services and renter’s workshop to families at-risk of eviction;
iv. Making legal services more available for families facing eviction;
v. Developing a first-response strategy whereby a designated agency is notified of pending eviction hearings;
vi. Developing an eviction prevention program for the district magistrates;
vii. Developing a community-wide strategy to reduce the number of evictions; and
viii. Continuing to provide a coordinated response between the City’s Office of Licenses, Inspections, and Permits (responsible for code enforcement), OECD (providers of financial assistance for transitional housing programs), and United Neighborhood Centers (administrators of transitional housing programs).

c. We wish to reduce the number of women who become homeless as a result of domestic violence by:

i. Increasing the availability of community-based civil legal representation services to victims of domestic violence; and
ii. Developing and implementing domestic violence intervention training aimed at holding batterers accountable for violent behavior and training all Scranton Police Officers.

5. In order to intervene on behalf of the homeless:

d. We wish to better identify those families who are homeless by:

i. Providing an unduplicated count of homeless persons including homeless families with children; and
ii. Implementing the HMIS to allow for coordination among service providers.

e. We wish to provide housing opportunities for all homeless families by:

i. Developing an approach whereby no family is denied access to shelter and/or other housing services when homeless;
ii. Reevaluating the current approach to providing emergency shelter;
iii. Exploring the feasibility of developing additional emergency shelter facilities for homeless families;
iv. Making “Housing First” a model for assisting families so that housing is seen as a basic human right for all community members, especially those with children; and
v. Retaining and expanding transitional housing, permanent housing and supportive services-only programs by continuing to provide financial support through Emergency Shelter Grants and Community Development Block Grants.

f. We wish to end homelessness among women who are victims of domestic violence by:
i. Supporting the current approach to housing women who are forced from their home as a result of domestic violence including shelter services and legal advocacy; and
ii. Increasing the number of homeless battered women with children who are assisted by rental assistance programs.

g. We wish to reduce the barriers that prevent homeless families from accessing housing opportunities by:

i. Increasing access to Public Housing;
ii. Increasing access to drug and alcohol treatment;
iii. Reducing the barriers associated with accessing mental health services;
iv. Increasing employment opportunities; and
v. Ensuring medical/dental care for all homeless persons, especially homeless families and children.

6. In order to build the infrastructure to end homelessness:

h. We wish to end homelessness by:

i. Assisting community-based organizations and others, including private developers, in creating quality, affordable rental units in the City of Scranton, especially efficiency units and one-bedroom units for non-elderly persons;
ii. Increasing the number of families who move from transitional housing to permanent housing and reduce the average length of time it takes a Family to do so; and
iii. Continuing to advocate fair housing, through the City of Scranton Human Relations Commission, to insure that no individual or family is denied Housing as a result of discrimination.

i. We wish to provide services needed for people to get and maintain housing by:i. Increasing the availability of supportive services to homeless persons who get housing so that they can maintain that housing thus ending the cycle of chronic homelessness, especially among families; and

. Coordinating and cooperating with other municipalities within Lackawanna County to meet the homeless housing needs on a county-wide basis.

j. We will support efforts to create wage and benefits that allow households to pay for basic expenses, especially housing, thereby reducing the number of families living in poverty.

V Community Development

Public Facilities

Needs

Parks, Recreational Facilities, and Community Facilities

In July 2003, the Urban Research and Development Corporation (Bethlehem, PA) completed its report, Scranton: Comprehensive Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Plan (the “Plan”). This Plan, which was formally adopted by City Council, contains a needs assessment and an action program with specific goals and objectives designed to meet the identified needs.

The Plan asserts that Scranton possesses “an extensive park system featuring unique facilities that many small cities can only dream about.” In making this claim, the Plan’s authors specifically cite:

• Nay Aug Park, a large, multi-purpose park near the downtown;
• Nay Aug Gorge, a National Natural Landmark;
• Lackawanna River and Roaring Brook, major watercourses through the City; and
• Public swimming facilities, of which Scranton has “more for its population than most cities in Pennsylvania.”

It reports that the City’s parks are frequently used (none of the survey respondents or interviewees had indicated that they “never” use the parks). It also notes that the City appears to have adequate facilities, when compared to other similar-sized cities in Pennsylvania, measured in terms of parkland acres per one-thousand citizens and swimming pools per resident.

The Plan also acknowledges that the role of the city government in providing parks and recreation services diminished during the 1990’s due to extreme fiscal difficulties. It suggests that the government take “small steps” toward restoring the parks system in order to reestablish credibility with its citizens.

The Plan’s needs assessment, which was developed from population-based guidelines, citizen surveys, and interviews with persons who plan and implement local recreation services, reaffirms what many citizens already know: that the public facilities have not been properly maintained (especially the swimming pools) and that there are not enough organized recreation programs offered at the parks.

Other Public Facilities

The City commissioned Rich and Associates, Inc. to conduct a comprehensive parking study that would assess the adequacy of its parking system and make recommendations for improvements to it. This study, which was performed in 1999, identified a then-current deficit of 541 parking spaces within the central business district. The City requested that Rich and Associates update their study in 2003, due to an apparent increase in demand for parking over that which had existed at the time of their original study. The updated assessment revealed a deficit of 924 parking spaces. These findings were based on Rich and Associates’ analysis of the economic factors existing at the times of their studies and historical data about tenant occupancy and turnover in Scranton’s downtown office buildings.

Survey respondents also indicated the need for additional parking in residential neighborhoods to alleviate on-street parking, which can create a nuisance.

Priority Needs

Parks, Recreational Facilities, and Community Facilities

Successful parks and recreational facilities must serve as activity centers for neighborhoods, meeting the recreation needs of the area residents. In order to promote such activity, the City must aspire to make its parks safe and attractive. Citizens specifically cited the need for children’s playgrounds (including separate play areas for “toddlers”), teen activity centers, and picnic areas. Scranton’s parks system has the potential to be the City’s most prized asset; the local government should focus its efforts on systematically restoring the parks, as needed, and ensuring that they are properly maintained, within the constraints of the limited fiscal resources.

Other Public Facilities

The lack of availability of parking in Scranton’s downtown is evident to all who visit the area. A bad situation became worse last year when the Hilton Scranton and Conference Center opened its doors without an appropriate amount of accessible parking spaces. Due to ongoing and proposed economic development projects that will bring additional workers and residents to the central business district, it is imperative that the City construct or be a catalyst in the construction of additional parking facilities in the near future; the hotel and other downtown projects are dependent upon it for financial vitality.

Strategies

Parks, Recreational Facilities, and Community Facilities

The Plan suggests that the City focus its early efforts towards restoring Nay Aug Park and Weston Field, the system’s “showcase parks.” While the major rehabilitation of the fieldhouse at Weston Field is ongoing, much progress has already been made at Nay Aug Park since the Plan was issued; some examples are:

• A modern swimming complex that includes two waterslides;
• A wildlife center that includes a tiger, a cougar, and several primates, offering families a free source of wholesome entertainment;
• A large children’s playground (with a section for the exclusive use of children aged five years and below) that was built entirely with volunteer labor under the supervision of Leathers & Associates, of Ithaca, NY;
• A hiking trail that leads to the Nay Aug Gorge, a National Natural Landmark;
• A restored greenhouse that plays a key educational role in the Scranton School District’s BEST Program; and
• A five-hundred seat amphitheater that will play host to all types of performances, including the popular Children’s Theater.

At present, Nay Aug Park is functioning effectively as a community recreation center, offering “something for everyone.” Those projects that are currently underway should be finished and future efforts will primarily relate to maintenance and upkeep to ensure that the Park remains a vibrant, attractive destination point for Scrantonians.

The City has a similar vision for Weston Field. In the past few years, the outdoor soccer fields, running track, and basketball courts have been improved. Recently, the City opened the restored indoor swimming pool and began rehabilitation of the locker rooms and fitness/weight training areas. In the near future the fieldhouse basketball gym and boxing ring will be rehabilitated. Upon completion of these improvements, Weston Field will provide a place for citizens of Scranton to recreate when the weather forces them indoors.

City residents have come to rely on neighborhood swimming facilities in the summer months. Many of these facilities are located in neighborhoods comprised primarily of low- and moderate-income families, where privately-owned backyard pools are scarce. Children and teenagers in these neighborhoods, who might otherwise be unoccupied, are attracted to the pools. It is important that the City recognize its role in maintaining these neighborhood facilities to meet its citizens recreation needs. Over the next five years, the City will use the Plan’s guidance to carry out much needed improvements at its swimming facilities, as limited fiscal resources allow.

Citizens of Scranton have also enjoyed the benefits of organized recreation programs supported by the local government. One such program is the Boys’ and Girls’ Club of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s “Park It” Program, which offers organized recreation activities for children residing in areas that are comprised of primarily low- and moderate-income families on Scranton School District property. Over the next five years, the City will work with the School District and local nonprofit organizations to maintain the existing programs and to establish new programs, following the “Park It” program formula.

Parks and other greenspaces are also present in many neighborhoods (some of which do not possess a swimming facility). Several of these parks have been largely neglected for years; as a result, they are widely underused. In order to restore these neighborhood facilities within the City’s budget constraints, it is important that the City recruit “partners” in its efforts. The City will solicit volunteers to help with “clean up” efforts and playground projects, similar to that which recently took place at Nay Aug Park, in order to revitalize these parks.

The City will also attempt to identify opportunities for development of additional recreational facilities or to support such development. One important initiative that the City will support is the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority’s Lackawanna River Corridor project. This project will develop a trailway for hiking and biking along the banks of the Lackawanna River. The trailway will connect the Steamtown National Historic Site and the Lackawanna County Trolley Museum, on the South end, to the campus of the new Scranton High School and the recently constructed indoor ice rink and indoor soccer complex. It will cross the River at the existing bridges, one of which is to be reconstructed in the near future (see the “Infrastructure Needs” section for further discussion of the bridge reconstruction project). Besides providing an additional opportunity for recreation, this project will provide citizens with access to a natural asset that had been largely inaccessible in the past. It will also link our City’s heritage, which is represented by the River and Steamtown, to our City’s present and future, which are represented by Scranton High School.

Other Public Facilities

In order to provide additional parking spaces that will primarily serve the hotel and the ongoing and proposed economic development projects, the City is constructing two parking garages, both of which are located in its Lackawanna East Redevelopment Area, as follows:

• A new 481-space facility, currently under construction on the site of the former Hotel Casey, which is directly across the street from the Hilton Hotel and Conference Center.
• A new 500-space facility on the site of the Casey Parkway (scheduled for demolition), which is adjacent to the Hilton Hotel and Conference Center, that will feature decorative medallions that are to be removed from the existing façade of the Casey Parkway.

The City will actively pursue opportunities to improve existing parking facilities and to construct new parking facilities, in addition to those mentioned above, near proposed development projects in other parts of the downtown as those projects progress. Also, the City will consider converting properties taken through the VPRC process (see the “Other Community Development Needs” section for a discussion of this process) into neighborhood parking lots where it appears that there is a significant problem presented by on-street parking.

Specific Objectives

Parks, Recreational Facilities, and Community Facilities

1. We will ensure that the restoration projects at Nay Aug Park and Weston Field, the park system’s “showcase parks,” are completed.

2. We will institute a pool improvement program, in accordance with the analysis provided in the Plan.

3. We will make other park improvements, focusing on those parks that function as neighborhood facilities, in accordance with the analysis provided in the Plan.

4. We will cultivate existing partnerships and make new partnerships to support recreation programs.

5. We will finance future park improvements and provide funds for regular maintenance in accordance with the suggestions provided in the Plan.

Other Public Facilities

6. We will continue to work with the Scranton Parking Authority and the Scranton Redevelopment Authority, the organizations that are financing and managing the new parking facilities, to ensure that they are completed.

We will pursue additional sources of funding to complement the federal and state funds that have been committed to our existing projects for the purpose of providing additional parking in Scranton.

Community Development – Infrastructure

Needs

It is abundantly clear to those people who reside in or work in the City of Scranton that our streets and bridges are in need of improvement. During our winter season, which can be harsh and prolonged, these streets and bridges sustain heavy damage. In prior years, the City had patched potholes and performed temporary repairs to these streets, but had not repaired and paved its streets so as to achieve long-term benefits. The condition of a city’s streets and bridges is often an indication of its overall status; therefore, Scranton needs to channel the necessary resources towards improving these infrastructure assets.

Some signs of decay are not as obvious as the potholes that line Scranton’s streets. For instance, there are several bridges in the City that are due for extensive rehabilitation or total replacement; however, most ordinary citizens would not be aware of the structural weaknesses that have been noted by trained engineers. The City should assess the condition of each of its bridges and develop a plan to address all deficiencies noted by the engineers trained to perform these assessments.

The City’s Department of Public Works has also identified the need for continued maintenance and upgrades to its flood prevention and stormwater drainage systems. This need, like the need to replace bridges, may not be apparent to all citizens; however, it has been made painfully clear to those who reside in areas that are most affected by the systems’ flaws. The City should continue to work closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who are currently constructing the Lackawanna River levee, and the government agencies (such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of General Services), who are currently leading several important stormwater drainage projects.

Sidewalks and curbs, throughout the City, exhibit signs of excessive wear and deterioration. Cracks and bumps present safety hazards to pedestrians; these hazards are of greatest concern in areas of high “foot traffic,” such as the downtown business district. Compounding this problem, in some cases, is the fact that many sidewalks and curbs do not provide for proper access to persons with disabilities.

In the downtown, many of the streetlights are attached to old metal posts that remain as a vestige of the era when electric trolleys frequented City streets. In most cases, these lights appear to provide an adequate amount of light to ensure the safety of pedestrians and motor vehicle operators; however, their rusted metal form is unattractive and potentially unsafe since the rust may indicate significant corrosion. Also, it seems that the lower parts of Lackawanna Avenue would benefit from additional street lights. The City would benefit from improving its streetscapes by providing additional streetlights and by making aesthetic improvements, which could help to produce an environment that encourages citizens and others to patronize local business, especially in the evening hours.

The citizen participation process also yielded some comments about perceived problems with the flow of traffic, as it relates to street patterns, and the function of traffic signals and pedestrian signals, which do not promote efficiency. The City should assess whether appropriate changes in street patterns can be imposed. The City should also determine whether it would be feasible to purchase new hardware to replace the existing, antiquated signals.

Priority Needs

The citizen participation process produced two areas of high priority:

1. Street improvements
2. Sidewalk and curb improvements

Agreement that these were extremely important issues was nearly unanimous. Bridge replacement and repair projects, which were not discussed by many citizens, were presented as high priorities by professionals who stressed that these projects would have a major impact on public safety.

Strategies

In 2004, Scranton’s Mayor initiated a comprehensive paving program, announcing that all city streets (over 210 miles) would be paved, systematically, over a four-year period. This program coincides with City’s participation in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Transportation Improvement Plan, which allows the local government to leverage its funds with state funds, on a 4-to-1 basis, in paving 22 miles of designated roads.

Also during the last year, the City has witnessed significant progress on four bridge repair or replacement projects. The local government is providing 5% of the total project cost; the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has committed to providing the remaining funds. It is anticipated that these important bridge projects will be substantially completed by mid-2006. The City’s Department of Public Works will continue to assess the condition of other bridges and will develop plans to address all major concerns.

Flood control and stormwater drainage systems will continue to be improved as part of the ongoing projects. In addition, the City’s Department of Public Works will perform much needed maintenance on its existing facilities in order to ensure that they operate effectively in conjunction with the new facilities and those under construction.

Sidewalks in commercial areas will be improved through cooperative efforts between the City and business owners. These efforts will be focused on replacing those sidewalks whose condition presents the greatest danger; in many cases, the sidewalks in greatest need of replacement are those that were originally constructed with asphalt or bituminous coal rather than concrete. All replacement sidewalks will be constructed with concrete. Also, ongoing efforts to address barriers to handicapped accessibility will continue to improve sidewalks and curbs throughout the City.

The City will encourage replacement of sidewalks in residential areas through its housing rehabilitation program.

Streetscapes will be improved through the installation of additional lights or the replacement of old lights with new lights (where practical, attractive period lighting will be used) and the addition of decorative planters.

Specific Objectives

1. We will continue to pave streets throughout the City under the comprehensive paving program, which utilizes CDBG funds in some low- to moderate-income areas, to make long-term improvements to our roadways.

2. We will continue to contribute CDBG funds, under a cooperative agreement with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, to four major bridge repair or replacement projects that are currently underway until these projects are completed (it is anticipated that all four projects will be completed by mid-2006).

3. Where necessary, we will improve public facilities that relate to our flood control system, such as pump stations and debris basins, which serve low- and moderate-income areas.

4. We will contribute community development funds to sidewalk improvement projects in order to promote pedestrian safety in high “foot traffic” areas.

5. We will contribute community development funds to sidewalk improvement projects that remove barriers to accessibility for handicapped persons.

6. We will contribute community development funds to improve streetscapes, utilizing CDBG funds if appropriate, to eliminate conditions of blight.


Community Development – Public Services

Needs

The City of Scranton, as the urban center of Lackawanna County, is home to an extensive list of public service agencies. Many of these agencies serve “special needs populations,” the needs of which were enumerated in that section of this Consolidated Plan (see pages 41-47); however, some of these agencies provide other groups of citizens with services that were not addressed in that section. For instance, the Senior Craftsmen Shop provides senior citizens with an opportunity to produce a craft item that can be displayed for sale, on a consignment basis, at the shop. This service provides the elderly with an opportunity to be productive, contributing citizens. Another service not mentioned in that section is the “Park-It Program,” offered by the Boys’ and Girls’ Club, which gives inner-city youths from low- and moderate-income families an opportunity to enjoy organized recreational activities at city-owned parks, many of which are not within walking distance of these young persons’ homes. It is important that Scranton continue to support programs such as these; however, it should be understood that the City cannot fund ongoing operation budgets of existing or emerging nonprofit agencies due to program eligibility guidelines.

Priority Needs

The Citizen Participation process indicated a need for additional youth services and youth facilities. The City should work with local nonprofit agencies that provide services to youths in order to better promote these services. Efforts should also be made to identify new types of services or activities that could be provided that would benefit this segment of the population; these efforts include those efforts to provide organized recreation programs (as discussed in the Public Facilities section, which begins on page 56).

Increased services to benefit senior citizens were not mentioned as often as being a high priority in the Citizen Participation process; but, due to the City’s demographics, one can deduce that great importance should be placed on serving this sub-population. Scranton should work with its seniors to better understand their needs so as to continue to support the valuable services that are currently being offered and to identify types of services that should be offered.

Some citizens suggested that information about those public services that are currently offered is not readily available. Many believe that a single-source-of-contact should be developed so that pertinent information can be disseminated efficiently.

Strategies

The City should meet with neighborhood groups and community leaders to determine what specific services should be developed and offered, especially those services that will benefit youths and seniors. Scranton should take a leadership role in promoting these services to its citizens.

Specific Objectives

7. We will support community-based initiatives to improve access, marketing, and utilization of existing public services.

8. We will identify opportunities to expand existing public services or to create new public services, especially when those services will benefit youths and seniors.

We will with the County of Lackawanna, as necessary, in developing a 211 calling system to act as a single-point-of-contact for public services information.

Community Development - Economic Development

Needs

The Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy released its report Back to Prosperity: A Competitive Agenda for Renewing Pennsylvania (the “Report”) in late 2003. The Report directly addresses the City of Scranton, which is part of the metropolitan statistical area (“MSA”) that also includes the nearby cities of Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton and the surrounding suburban areas, providing data and related analysis that must be considered as we develop our consolidated plan.

The Report demonstrates that:

• More than half of our MSA’s population lives in and works in the suburbs;
• Employment growth in our MSA lags far behind the state and national growth rate; and
• Average annual income of households in our MSA lags far behind the state and national average.

The Report tells us that our MSA is “spreading out,” which means that its cities are experiencing declines in population while its suburban areas are experiencing increases in population. It tells us that this trend is isolating the MSA’s low-income and minority residents, leaving them to live in decaying areas and separating them from employment opportunities.

The Report advises us to “support manufacturing” and to invest in, among other things, “consumption amenities.” Elaborating on the latter suggestion, the Report asserts that “restaurants, entertainment, shopping, hotels, and cultural institutions - as well as financial, business, and legal services - are essential components of thriving urban areas.” It further suggests that “those places with a healthy mix of industrial and service oriented jobs-from health care to hospitality, - will have the best chance of growth and recovery in the years to come.

Priority Needs

We solicited members of the community through the Citizen Participation process (described earlier in the Plan) in order to determine the areas of priority need. This process made it clear that the City of Scranton’s priority needs are:

• Employment opportunities;
• Improved infrastructure in the downtown central business district; and
• Improved infrastructure in neighborhood commercial areas.

Not surprisingly, these priority needs relate closely to the observations contained in the Brookings Institution’s Report.

Strategies

We believe that, in some cases, private investment follows public investment; our city government intends to take a leadership role in economic development. We intend to aggressively pursue opportunities to attract businesses to our city. These businesses will make available more employment opportunities and will provide the types of consumption amenities that improve the overall quality of life in our city. We also intend to encourage private-sector investment to improve our city’s infrastructure so that we can readily support new businesses and offer the type of environment that fosters continued economic growth.

Specific Objectives

9. We will provide assistance to private-sector enterprises who wish to form a business in the City; to expand an existing business in the City; and to relocate an existing business from inside or outside the City to another location within its boundaries; through our Commercial/ Industrial Revolving loan fund and through our Grow Scranton loan fund, which will foster the creation or the retention of, jobs, at least 51% of which will be made available to low- and moderate-income residents.

10. We will devote the resources necessary to ensure that our infrastructure suits the needs of businesses that exist in the City or that may be interested in relocating to the City (specifically, we will help to make adequate parking available in our central business district and in neighborhood commercial areas).

11. We will direct funds to redevelop neighborhood commercial areas, especially those neighborhoods which are comprised of primarily low- and moderate-income families, in order to provide additional and higher quality services for its residents.

12. We will pursue sources of funding for economic development initiatives, beyond the HUD programs, in order to effectively leverage the federal investment in these initiatives.

13. We will continue to administer the Keystone Opportunity Zone program, a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania tax abatement program, so that we may continue to provide an additional economic incentive to encourage economic development initiatives.

14. We will continue to work closely with the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, the County of Lackawanna, the University of Scranton Small Business Development Center, and various non-profit agencies and neighborhood organizations in order to ensure that, through cooperation, we can maximize the effects of our efforts to promote economic development initiatives.


Community Development – Other Community Development Needs

Needs

One of Scranton’s greatest assets is its architectural heritage. Many of the commercial buildings in the downtown, which are of historical significance, are in need of rehabilitation and preservation. Many of these structures provide an important link to the era of “When Coal Was King;” as such, they are integral components of our heritage. Over the last several years, the City has lost several historical properties that had deteriorated into a condition that rendered rehabilitation and preservation activities cost-prohibitive. It is important that the City take steps to prevent further loss of these types of properties in the future.

Older cities, such as Scranton, often exhibit obvious conditions of blight in commercial and residential areas. This type of blight can exist throughout an entire area, constituting a slum, or on a spot basis. The City needs to continue to actively pursue elimination of slums and conditions of blight in order to prevent its spread.

Priority Needs

Community support for historical preservation projects has been strong. One such project that the community has taken an interest in is the restoration of the Electric City sign. This sixty-seven year-old sign, which read, “Scranton: The Electric City,” was once a tremendous source of pride for area residents. With its bright lights, it helped to popularize Scranton’s moniker, which is a reference to its development of the first electric trolley system. Sadly, it has remained in the dark for almost thirty years. It continues to sit atop the Scranton Electric Building, which was constructed in 1896 and is considered to be Scranton’s first “skyscraper.” The restoration project was begun by Scranton Tomorrow, a nonprofit civic organization. PPL Corp., our local electricity provider, has agreed to lead the effort to raise the funds that will be necessary to restore the sign to its original condition.

The Architectural Heritage Association and some citizens have also expressed concern about the planned demolition of a dilapidated building, which was once a parking facility, whose facade features terra cotta medallions that are decorated with examples of turn-of-the-century means of transportation, such as early automobiles, motorcycles, airplanes, and ships. The City plans to demolish the structure, which was originally constructed in 1926, to make way for a modern 500-space parking facility. It is important that the City make every reasonable effort to preserve the historical elements of the existing building.


Lackawanna Avenue is the commercial center of downtown Scranton. On one end of this major thoroughfare, sits a downtown shopping mall; the other end is bolstered by two large hotels. Currently under construction, in between the mall and the hotels, are an eight-story parking garage and the headquarters of a Fortune 500 company. One block of Lackawanna Avenue appears to be the only section that has not received a major facelift in recent years. The south side of the 500 block is lined with commercial structures, several of which were constructed near the end of the nineteenth century. Recently, a local real estate developer announced plans to redevelop the entire block. The plans involve rehabilitation of the existing historical structures and modifications to the facades of the other existing structures in order to create a consistent architectural theme. Given that the City has so few of Lackawanna Avenue’s original historic storefronts remaining (several were imploded in 1990 to make way for the mall), it seems that this project is an essential ingredient in local historic preservation.

The City has initiated an aggressive initiative to eliminate slums and conditions of blight throughout residential and neighborhood commercial areas. Over 100 condemned structures were demolished since this initiative commenced in 2003. Upon demolition, the properties are turned over to the Scranton Redevelopment Authority’s Vacant Property Review Committee so that the necessary legal process can begin. This process results in the Authority gaining title to these properties so that they can stimulate redevelopment and create additional property tax revenue for the City. It is imperative that the City continue to concentrate on this type of property redevelopment; however, it is also important that the City coordinate its effort in this area with its efforts to further affordable housing.

Strategies

The City is currently experiencing an economic and cultural renaissance. Private developers are investing in Scranton’s future at a rate not seen since the 1930’s, when the City’s population reached its historical peak. Scranton will capitalize on the building momentum and ensure that proposed projects occur according to plan. It is especially important that projects that involve historical preservation and blight elimination, such as those mentioned in the preceding section, come to fruition.

Specific Objectives

15. We will continue to work with Scranton Tomorrow, PPL Corp., and other interested parties to ensure that the project to restore the Electric City sign is completed.

16. We will preserve the decorative medallions from the façade of the Casey Parkway prior to its demolition and build them into the façade of the garage to be constructed on its site as part of a compromise with the Architectural Heritage Association.

17. We will work with the developer of the 500 Lackawanna Avenue project, providing community development funds where necessary and appropriate, to assist with rehabilitation and historical preservation activities in this designated urban renewal area.

18. We will support the Scranton Redevelopment Authority and the Vacant Property Review Committee in efforts to eliminate slums and conditions of blight.

19. We will continue to offer “façade grants,” which provide an economic incentive (dollar-for-dollar match up to $25,000) for owners of historical buildings to improve their appearance.

20. We will continue ongoing dialogue with the elected officials of Lackawanna County and their appointees (particularly the Lackawanna Valley Heritage Authority and the Lackawanna Historical Society) in efforts to cooperate and share resources to achieve common goals of rehabilitation and historical preservation.

Community Development – Planning and Administration

Needs

Technological advances have provided local governments with creative, effective means of providing program information to interested citizens. Many cities like Scranton have developed internet sites that display:

• Summaries of programs administered locally;
• Links to additional information about these programs (such as a link to the grantor agencies’ similar sites);
• Applications for assistance under these programs; and
• Information about the individuals responsible for program administration.

These websites also allow local governments to better advertise public meetings and to provide easier access to public documents, such as this Consolidated Plan. Scranton, which has made recent improvements to its information technology, needs to develop such a site.

The Office of Economic and Community Development, the department responsible for administration of the programs, has successfully partnered with Neighborhood Housing of Scranton, a local nonprofit agency, in administering its homeowner rehabilitation program and its lead-based paint hazard control program. Due to the frequent turnover that is typical of local government, the City believes that its programs will benefit from the involvement of an agency whose mission fits closely with the program objectives. The City should continue to strengthen its relationship with Neighborhood Housing of Scranton and ensure that the programs are being properly administered.

Priority Needs

The City contracted Barry Strock Consulting Associates, Inc. to perform an Information Technology Systems Review in 2004. This engagement will culminate in a comprehensive written assessment of the City’s system of Information Technology and recommendations for improvements to this system. It is important that the City determine which recommendations are of the highest priority so that it can direct an appropriate amount of resources towards their implementation.

Strategies

Scranton will work towards the development of a city-wide website over the next year and will continue to improve the site to better meet the needs of its users over the next several years. The City will also implement the most important improvements suggested in the report to be delivered by Barry Strock Consulting Associates, Inc.

The Office of Economic and Community Development will continue to work with Neighborhood Housing of Scranton to strengthen its partnership and to ensure that its programs are properly administered and that they produce the intended benefits and outcomes.

Specific Objectives

21. We will ensure that a website related to our programs has been developed and is available to our citizens by the end of 2005.

22. We will implement other technological improvements, especially those recommended by Barry Strock Consulting Associates, Inc., as resources permit over the next five years.

23. We will meet frequently with the Executive Director of Neighborhood Housing Services of Scranton and her staff to discuss the program so that we can properly oversee and monitor their performance.

24. We will pursue opportunities to benefit from Technical Assistance aimed at strengthening the programs administered by our sub-recipient and at improving our monitoring procedures.