Department of Housing and Urban Development touring northern tier of PA

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WAYMART, WAYNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is on a three-day tour across the northern tier of Pennsylvania, making stops at nearly 10 counties in our area.

The Regional Administrator is meeting with commissioners and housing authorities. The department is looking to help those who live in or improve public housing.

Wayne County has a population of more than 51,000. A number of residents live in the county’s more than 100 housing units in Waymart and Hawley. Others are waiting.

“The issue is that we don’t have the housing stock for the people to move, find and move into,” Wayne County Housing Authority executive director Joseph Kohut said.

Kohut says the waiting list is backlogged a year.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD, Regional Administrator Joe DeFelice is on a three-day tour to learn more about how effective or not Pennsylvania HUD-assisted housing and community development projects are doing and how they can improve.

“Everywhere I go it seems like there is a waiting list for public housing. We kind of want to get rid of that waiting list. You know, open up more housing and frankly get people up and graduated out of housing so more people that truly need it, move in,” DeFelice said.

DeFelice is visiting Pike, Wayne, Susquehanna, and Bradford Counties Wednesday and nine others, some in central Pennsylvania, Thursday and Friday.

“It’s different to get up here, to get out on the local roads, talk to real people and find out what matters and the issues are different,” DeFelice said.

The Wayne County Housing Authority expressed their concerns with infrastructure gas lines, water lines, sewer lines, plus getting landlords on the HUD program to allow more housing.

“We have HQs that we have to go into the unit, inspect it for health and safety,” Kohut said.

The trouble is some properties fail the inspection.

“A lot of landlords do not want to spend the money to bring the units up to standards for our qualifications for the program,” Kohut said.

DeFelice will take these ideas and needs back to Philadelphia to work out a plan to assist the counties on his tour.

DeFalice will be visiting County Housing Authorities and commissioners in Clinton, Union, and Northumberland Counties on Friday.

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