The Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority is working with community leaders and neighbors to eradicate blight.
Combatting blight could be as simple as applying a new coat of paint to a house. And, the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority (ECGRA) is offering a new grant to support such efforts.
A new programmed aimed at fighting blight unveiled Thursday by ECGRA. It’s called the Erie County Renaissance Block Grant.
ECGRA’s Executive Director, Perry Wood, tells us, “These funds will be available through these non-profits for homeowners to fix up the fronts of their house, to replace sidewalks, to put new trees in the neighborhood and curbs and to fix up parks.”
Wood says $500,000 will be set aside over the next two years for the grant. “We’ve put a pot of money together to work with nonprofits like Our West Bayfront and the Corry Neighborhood Initiative to go in and to assess on a block-by-block basis, where we should start the process of investing.”
Organizations like Our West Bayfront will work with ECGRA to identify where money should go, assisting property owners who want to make improvements.
Our West Bayfront’s Executive Director, Anna Frantz, says, “So, that’s a lot of what our focus has been over the last year and this opportunity through ECGRA really enhances that and help us to accelerate those efforts in the West Bayfront.”
The funds must be matched, but organizations could be awarded up to $150,000 with individual properties receiving up to $5,000.
Erie Resident Marcy Hall says, “Having an investment that will help people to kind of restructure some of the old bones of their houses and make them into really great places again, I think is a wonderful thing.”
And, Wood says, “This Renaissance Block Grant I think is going to be significant in getting gaming funds into the various neighborhoods of Erie County, and to start reversing the trend of blight.”
Property owners must go through their neighborhood organization or their municipality for this grant money. Those organizations or authorities must then apply by May 3rd.
Housing and community development programs could also get assistance from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. That support is expected to come in the form of funding from the Community Development Block Grant Program.
Erie is projected to receive nearly $2.8 million, with more than $400,000 going toward rehabilitation efforts and more than $300,000 for code enforcement.
Assistant Director of Economic & Community Development, Debra Smith, says, “Our program has to benefit at least 70 percent of low, moderate-income individuals; and that’s what the Community Development Block Grant was used for.”
Erie City Council approves the plan before it is submitted to the Housing and Urban Development Division.