The Schuylkill County Affordable Housing Trust Fund Board reported to the county commissioners at their work session held Wednesday at the courthouse in Pottsville that it has $179,208 available for funding this year for housing programs which benefit low income residence.

Affordable Housing efforts as defined by the state legislature is for any program or project approved by the county commissioners which increases the availability of quality housing, either sales or rental, to any county resident whose annual income is less than the median income of the county.

The Schuylkill County Affordable Housing Trust Fund was established by the county commissioners back in 1996 and in 1999 established the Affordable Housing Trust Fund Board, which serves as an advisory board comprised of seven residents appointed by the commissioners. The role of the trust fund board is to review funding requests and make recommendations to the commissioners for their approval.

The Schuylkill County Action organization was named as the administrative agency of the trust fund in 2000. Its role is to provide marketing and outreach for the program, review and package funding applications, discuss applications with potential service providers and the trust fund board monitor funded projects, maintain records, report to the commissioners for final action.

Over the long period of time the county commissioners has approved $3,443,190 in affordable housing grants to municipalities and non-profit agencies throughout the county. During this period $2,059,979, or 59.8 percent of the funding, has been awarded to countywide projects (projects or programs available to all county residents), and $1,383,2132 or 40.2 percent to at-large projects (funds designated for regional, municipal or site-specific projects). This includes housing rehabilitation, repairs to homes, homeownership projects, community development and revitalization, rental development. A total of 3,647 beneficiaries have been assisted.

Other business

The commissioners approved tax settlements for three industrial buildings in the county from which owners had filed appeals in the county court. The agreement is for the 1993 taxes.

The new market value fixed for the industrial building owned by Thermo-Dynamics Boiler Company, located of Earl Street and SR61, North Union Township, was set at $1,100,000; the warehouse and light industrial building owned by Mark G. Ebert, 2100 Water St., Auburn, West Brunswick Township, was set at $881,500; and the industrial building owned by Black Eagle Industrial, LTD, along SR61 in North Manheim Township, was set at $1,585,000.

Grant Writer Gary Bender was given approval to submit an application to the Pennsylvania Department of Justice for a grant of $300,000 for use in arrest programs for sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.

The commissioners reviewed the request of county prison warden Eugene Berdanier to continue with the maintenance and service agreement with Pa Savin Program, which is a statewide automated victim information and notification system which notifies victims when the assaulter is released from prison. The county's fee is $2,144.85 for the year.