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| The Housing Stock | Subsidized Housing | Neighborhood Revitalization Initiatives |
Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization Goals |
Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization Recommendations |

Suitable housing is a basic need and a key to quality of life. A wide choice of housing styles and price ranges can be a major community asset. This section of the Comprehensive Plan includes descriptive data about Pottsville’s housing stock plus a review of local housing assistance programs. Goals and recommendations focus on ways to further enhance the City’s already extensive neighborhood revitalization efforts.

The Housing Stock

Pottsville’s housing stock is a diverse mix of owner-occupied and rental units with a variety of styles, conditions and values. The City’s neighborhoods range from densely developed, urbanized streets near the downtown to the stately homes along Mahantongo Street and suburban-style, low density housing in Yorktown. Owners occupied 63.3% of Pottsville’s housing in 1990, a statistic that has remained virtually constant since 1960. Homeownership is a strong tradition in Pottsville and no large scale conversion of single-family homes into apartments appears to be occurring. This is good news for strength and stability in the City’s housing stock.


The advanced age of the housing stock is a major challenge in Pottsville. Nearly six out of every ten homes in the City were built before 1940. Well constructed homes that are carefully maintained often provide very desirable housing. The Mahantongo Street corridor in Pottsville is a perfect example. More often, older neighborhoods indicate a need for housing rehabilitation. The northeastern corner of Pottsville contains the City’s highest concentrations of substandard housing. Blighting conditions and widespread deterioration were evident along many streets in this sector during the windshield survey conducted for this Comprehensive Plan.

Single-family developments, such as Westwood Park, Cottage Hill West, Greenwood Hills and Forrest Hills are among the City’s newest and best maintained residential areas. However, most of Pottsville’s neighborhoods show evidence of deferred maintenance, without actually falling into the blighted category. Many such areas show signs of neglect that could lead to disinvestment. High-turnover, rental housing that is owned by out-of-town landlords is particularly susceptible to this type of decline.

In contrast to marginal neighborhoods, the housing market is strong in certain sections of Pottsville, particularly in newer, single-family areas. Single-family detached homes accounted for almost one-third of Pottsville’s housing stock in 1990. This proportion has been slightly increasing over time because most of the new homes constructed in the City tend to be singles rather than row homes or apartments. Pottsville does not have a strong, active gentrification movement like Philadelphia, Allentown and some other urban areas in eastern Pennsylvania. The most visible signs of housing investment in the City are Pottsville’s newer single-family homes.


Subsidized Housing

Extensive public housing assistance is available in Pottsville. As shown on Table 9, Pottsville has almost 800 units in the twelve subsidized housing developments in the City. There is a two-year waiting list for this housing. The Catholic Diocese of Allentown owns Queen of Peace and Market Square is owned by a private corporation. The City of Pottsville Housing Authority owns and manages the remainder of these public housing units. The Housing Authority also administers Pottsville’s HUD Section 8 housing program, under which eligible families qualify for rental assistance in private rental housing. The Pottsville Housing Authority administers 428 HUD Section 8 vouchers.

Pottsville supports a large share of the subsidized housing responsibility in Schuylkill County. Considering both public housing and Section 8 vouchers, the City had 956 subsidized units in May 2000, 13% of Pottsville’s total 1990 housing stock. By comparison, 1,100 subsidized housing units exist in all the rest of Schuylkill County.



Neighborhood Revitalization Initiatives

The City of Pottsville allocates a significant portion of its Community Development Block Grant entitlement each year to housing rehabilitation. Loans of up to $7,500 per home are available to low-moderate income homeowners Citywide for eligible rehabilitation activities. The loans are virtually grants in that liens are placed on the subject properties and removed after a 5-year period. The City uses its HUD HOME program funds for substantial housing rehabilitation, where grants of up to $25,000 are made to eligible projects. In conjunction with Schuylkill County, Pottsville funds a demolition program under which four to five blighted homes are razed per year. In past years, the City has also set aside funds to help eligible first-time homebuyers pay their closing costs.

The City of Pottsville works closely with the Economic Opportunity Council of Schuylkill County (EOC), a non-profit organization that offers an array of housing services to Schuylkill County residents. Under its Affordable Home Ownership program, the EOC purchases abandoned homes, rehabilitates them, and resells the homes to low-moderate income, first-time homebuyers. In addition to managing a housing rehab program similar to Pottsville’s, EOC offers weatherization assistance, homebuyer education courses, and other forms of emergency assistance and housing-related counseling.

Pottsville supports its housing assistance programs with a balanced program of neighborhood revitalization initiatives. Traditionally, the City targets Community Development Block Grant funds to street, sidewalk, playground and other infrastructure improvements in residential areas. To intensify its code enforcement efforts, Pottsville recently hired an assistant code enforcement officer to assist the City’s existing code enforcement officer. The City has also begun a rental housing inspection program under which all the City’s rental units will be inspected once every five years. The assistant code enforcement officer is conducting these inspections. Top of Page

Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization Goals

  • Attract more market rate, owner-occupied housing construction.
  • Stabilize the housing stock of marginal, "borderline" neighborhoods.
  • Reduce blight and disinvestment in declining neighborhoods.
  • Ensure that municipal services fully complement the City’s housing-related initiatives. Top of Page

Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization Recommendations

  • Emphasize "one home on one lot" zoning wherever possible to encourage construction of owner-occupied homes rather than rental units.
  • In coordination with the Economic Opportunity Cabinet, reinstitute a City-sponsored program to assist low and moderate income, first-time home buyers pay their closing costs.
  • Work with Schuylkill County to target a portion of Act 137 recording fee revenues for housing rehabilitation and homebuyer assistance programs in Pottsville.
  • Use Community Development Block Grant monies to provide funding incentives for the deconversion of multi-family structures back to single-family homes.
  • Adopt an ordinance under Pennsylvania State law that abates real estate tax increases that result from an increased assessment due to housing rehabilitation; encourage the County and School District to do likewise to make the program meaningful.
  • Use some of the City’s Community Development Block Grant or HOME Program funds to assist Habitat for Humanity construct new housing in Pottsville.
  • Encourage job training agencies to work with Economic Opportunity Cabinet and others to help train local residents through work on housing rehabilitation projects in the City.
  • Ask local banks to investigate Neighborhood Assistance Tax credits that can be received from the State of Pennsylvania for donating money, goods or services to low-moderate income housing assistance efforts.
  • Continue encouraging City residents to take advantage of the Economic Opportunity Cabinet’s financial counseling and other educational assistance helpful in buying a home and avoiding homelessness.
  • Establish a vacant property review system where the City determines if vacant homes are blighted and decides if: a) the homes should be condemned and resold, or b) demolished with a lien on the property to help recoup demolition costs.
  • Encourage neighborhood associations, special events, block parties, neighborhood watch programs and other volunteer activities to increase residents’ community spirit and sense of neighborhood unity.
  • Ask local banks to investigate the feasibility of reverse mortgages, under which older people who have accumulated equity in their homes can sell this equity back to a lender in return for monthly payments that can help pay for home improvements and repairs.
  • Cluster capital projects such as park renovations, street reconstruction, repaving and other infrastructure improvements in specific target neighborhoods to heighten the impact of the City’s investment in needy neighborhoods.
  • Tighten zoning controls on establishing and extending commercial uses in residential areas to protect the "livability" of the City’s residential neighborhoods.
  • Continue the City’s stepped up emphasis on code enforcement, the early intervention necessary to prevent blight. Top of Page

| Introduction | Population | Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization |
| Citywide Land Use Plan | Economic Development | Central Business District Revitalization |
| Transportation | Community Facilities and Services | Action Program | Tables |