STEELTON, PA (October 24, 2017) – The Dauphin County Commissioners today joined with Steelton officials and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Harrisburg to break ground on the renovation of a vacant home in the 100 block of Locust Street into affordable housing for two families.
Transforming the residential property at 101 Locust Street marks the first joint project between Habitat and the Dauphin County Land Bank. Initial funding for the anticipated $100,000 project is coming from a $69,000 gaming grant awarded earlier this year by the county commissioners.
“This kind of project is what we envisioned when we created the Dauphin County Land Bank,’’ said board Chairman Jeff Haste. “We’re taking blighted property that negatively impacts the entire neighborhood and turning it into housing for two families. We’re also returning the property to the tax rolls so the entire borough benefits.’’
“We are grateful to the county commissioners for their support of Steelton,’’ said borough council President Jeffrey L. Wright. “The Habitat for Humanity project is an example of how we’re working to improve the life for all our residents.’’
As with all Habitat for Humanity’s projects, families that will eventually live in the new duplex will help with the construction, which is expected to take about eight months, said Yinka Adesubokan, executive director for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Harrisburg.
“Fighting blight is one of our initiatives and hearing the county wanted to get involved is a win-win,’’ Adesubokan said. “Enhancing or beautifying a neighborhood has a trickle-down effect on everything else.’’
“When we took office, this board said addressing quality of life issues was one of our top priorities,’’ said Commissioner Mike Pries. “Our Land Bank is doing just that by turning deteriorating properties into community assets.”
Among the Dauphin County Land Bank’s successful projects are the building of five new townhomes in the 4700 block of Tuscarora Street and the renovation of a single-family home in the 3500 block of Centerfield Street, both in Susquehanna Township.
“Even a single blighted home can drive down property prices and cast a shadow over an entire block,’’ said Commissioner George P. Hartwick, III. “Municipalities don’t have the resources to make these neighborhood improvements, which is why the Land Bank is so important.’’
The commissioners were the first to take advantage of a state law passed in January of 2013 allowing counties and municipalities to create land bank authorities. To start the Dauphin County Land Bank, the commissioners used $250,000 in gaming money. Ongoing funding for the land bank comes from the sale of the restored homes or businesses and agreements between the county and host municipalities and school districts to give half of the post-sale property taxes to the land bank for five years.
Restoring the Locust Street property, which became vacant in 1998, is part of a borough-wide revitalization project that includes the opening in September of the county’s first skateboard park in Dauphin County.
Funding for the skate park came from a $40,000 tourism grant, $90,000 in local share gaming grants and a 5-year $80,000 loan from the county's Industrial Development Authority.