The Challenge

This foreclosed, scattered site rental community in Harrisburg, PA was acquired by the City of Harrisburg from FHA along with a $1.4 million Up Front Grant to renovate the property. The property, scattered over nine city blocks and 45 acres, was very deteriorated, overly dense, and a magnet for drugs and crime; the City and HUD maintained 24-hour security seven days a week to keep crime under control. The City was eager to resolve the problems impacting this uptown community situated only blocks away from the Governor’s mansion.

The Plan

To meet the City’s goal for the redevelopment of this area, Landex formed a public/private partnership with the City of Harrisburg, including the Mayor’s Office, the Redevelopment Authority, the Harrisburg Housing Authority, HUD, the State housing agency, and local community stakeholders, to redevelop and reposition the community into a mixed-income rental housing community.

Landex used its prior experiences in similar communities with the Up Front Grant to develop a long-term plan that was embraced by all parties. Working with the City and its agencies, Landex increased the HUD Upfront Grant contribution to $11,800,000. In return for this allocation, the developer and the City were to obtain additional funding from entities such as the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. The final plan included the renovation and creation of 291 apartments in garden-style and townhouse construction.

Of these housing units, 69 units are in a “lease-to-own” program that allows occupants to acquire the property in fee-simple ownership at the completion of the federal compliance period.  For the “lease-to-own” units, Landex established a program to help residents save for homeownership.  Under this program, Landex matches dollar-for-dollar the occupant’s contribution toward a down payment to purchase one of the “lease-to-own” houses.  For the occupied apartments that needed to be renovated or razed, Landex developed a relocation plan, which was consistent with the Uniform Relocation Act and state regulations that required residents to be temporarily relocated within the apartment complex.  All residents had a right to return to the community.

The Result

As a result of the plan created by Landex and its public/private partners, the Governor Square community is a thriving asset to the City of Harrisburg. Revitalization of the community was not confined to the physical elements; rather, the new community involved the creation of human service linkages with existing community-based service providers and the availability of employment opportunities for the under and unemployed. In addition, the plan created the opportunities for renters to become homeowners in the city.  Thus, the master plan for the revitalized community paid heed to the physical need of the housing as well as to the human resources required to build the self-sufficiency of its residents.

The plan also provided a means for the City to create homeownership opportunities for its communities. Through the “lease-to-own” program and the matching funds from Landex, 69 low-income households will be able to afford to purchase one of the Governor Square townhouses.