Push underway for $50 million grant to remodel West End neighborhoods and social housing

The city of Eston wants to apply for between $30 million and $50 million in federal funds to remodel public housing and neighborhood life in his struggling west neighborhood.

The Choice Neighborhoods Grant would be Easton’s biggest public housing initiative since the city set up a $20 million grant to demolish the barracks-style homes of Delaware Terrace on the South Side about 15 years ago. Delaware Terrace has been replaced by Neston Heights Cottages.

The draft plan published in June targets three areas: Bushkill House, a housing project on Elm Street and social housing on and near North Union Street. Each of them would be demolished, reconfigured, rebuilt and expanded.

The to plan calls for 160 public housing units to be demolished and replaced with 273. This is the opposite of what was done with Neston Heights, where 250 units were replaced with only 140.

The new plan also pays particular attention to the services needed in the disadvantaged neighborhood of the West. If the city gets the grant, 15% will go to community impact projects, according to Jared Mast. He is the executive director of Greater Easton Development Partnership. Mast’s organization is partnering with the city and the Easton Housing Authority to secure the grant.

“The plan goes beyond bricks and mortar to address broader issues such as education, safety, health care and the network of support services, which will help all residents of all ages and incomes to maintain their health and achieve financial stability,” the June draft plan said.

The city, the housing office and GDPP are using a $450,000 planning grant to work with the community to determine what housing and services will best meet the needs of the West End.

“You focus on the people, the neighborhood and the place,” Mast said.

Mast said the city wants to build on Neston Heights’ successes while learning from its mistakes. The new plan will mix owner-occupied homes with low-income rentals and reintegrate housing into the community. That’s what worked with Neston Heights.

Unlike Neston Heights, however, housing would be built in phases. This avoids the massive relocation of Delaware Terrace, where the entire neighborhood was bulldozed and everyone had to find new homes until Neston Heights was built. The plan calls for new homes on vacant lots near each of the three neighborhoods. People could leave their homes and move into those built on nearby vacant land, freeing up old homes for demolition and then rebuilding.

The draft plan is displayed on the West Ward Choice neighborhood website, westwardeaston.org. The plan is the product of several community meetings. Mast said developers are being considered to implement the plan. Developers will have to deal with steep grades near North Union Street and maximize the use of available land. New parking lots and parks are being considered as each neighborhood is remodeled.

This yard slopes down to a public housing building at 619 Northampton St. in Easton. You can see 15 N. Union St. in the background. The Easton Housing Authority leases public housing in a 3 acre plot in the area of ​​Northampton, North Union and Church streets. Photo from July 28, 2022.Rudy Miller | For lehighgvalleylive.com

Easton Public Housing

These apartments on this sloping hill are next to the 600 block of Church Street in Easton. They are part of a group of social housing flats rented by the Easton Housing Authority on a 3 acre plot in the area of ​​Northampton, North Union and Church streets. Photo from July 28, 2022. Rudy Miller | For lehighgvalleylive.com

A final version of the plan should be ready by the end of the year. It will be sent to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development as a Choice Neighborhoods Grant Application.

In the past, grants have been awarded between $30 million and $50 million, Mast said.

The last public housing grant Easton received in this price range was the $20 million HOPE VI grant awarded in 2006 to demolish the beleaguered Delaware Terrace housing project. Like Delaware Terrace, the Bushkill House, Elm Street, and North Union Street projects are classified as distressed housing that should be replaced.

The comment period on the plan ended on July 31, although Mast said it was never too late to intervene.

“We continue to refine the plan. We are definitely open to feedback,” he said.

To comment, email [email protected]

Prime neighborhood of the West End

The top map shows the North Union Street area along Church Street and north of Northampton Street. The bottom shows a rendering of the proposed new North Union Street neighborhood.Choice Neighborhood Plan Maps

Prime neighborhood of the West End

The top map shows the Bushkill House neighborhood. The bottom shows a rendering of the proposed new Bushkill House.Choice Neighborhood Plan Maps

Prime neighborhood of the West End

The top map shows the Elm Street neighborhood between 10th and 11th streets. The bottom shows a rendering of the proposed new Elm Street.Choice Neighborhood Plan Maps

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Rudy Miller can be reached at [email protected].

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