Sixth Street in Jeannette is being revitalized with new homes for low-income, first-time buyers.
By Debra Duncan
Six newly constructed homes in Jeannette's South Sixth Street Revitalization Program can be toured from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday.
The new homes each have 1,500 square feet with three bedrooms and a full basement. They have off-street parking, and are equipped with kitchen appliances and a washer and dryer. The homes are in the 300 block of South Sixth Street.
The homes are for first-time buyers, with purchase price and monthly mortgage payments dependent on family income.
The revitalized south side neighborhood has historical significance because many workers in the city's once-booming -- and internationally recognized -- glass factories resided there. At one time, seven glass factories operated in Jeannette, a town of 9,600-plus residents, still called the "Glass City."
"It's exciting to see how the street scape in that area is changing," said Diana Reitz, community development coordinator for Jeannette. "Both sides of Sixth Street now have the new homes, so buyers will really be able to see how the neighborhood is developing."
"These homes are really just three blocks from part of the business district," she said. "And with the price of gas, people will be able to walk to stores or to work."
"A young working couple with not much income may not want to keep on renting," she said. "They may want to buy, and these are affordable homes."
"We want everyone in the community to come take a look at what's happening in their town," she said. "These are well-built homes, and people maintain these new homes. I'm very pleased with where we are in the project.
"Eventually, there will be a cul-de-sac and a park at the end of Sixth Street."
"We do everything to help make the home-buying process achievable and continued years of home ownership successful," said Jack Brown, director of community services for Westmoreland Community Action, developer of the homes.
"A credit counselor will be available during the open house to discuss the home-buying process and to help potential buyers determine if they are eligible to buy one of them. Once a buyer is considered eligible, they participate in a homebuyer's education program through the Westmoreland Community Action Homebuyer Resource Center."
Two homes are still available from Phase 1, which has a lower income ceiling. Those homebuyers can have up to 80 percent of the area median income, or $36,350 a year for a single person, $51,900 for a family of four and $60,280 for a family of six.
With the four newly constructed homes in Phase 2, household income can be 120 percent of the median income, or $54,000 for a single person and up to $90,350 for a family of six.
Additionally, Jeannette offers assistance with down payments and closing costs.
Phase 1 was funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Phase 2 homes were financed through the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.
Ms. Reitz praised the county and the Westmoreland Community Action agency for their part in the revitalization project.
"This program is the first of its kind in Westmoreland County, and no other county in the state has done a project like this," she said.
The project along South Sixth Street began in 2008, when the city tore down dilapidated homes and townhouses along the street.
In Phase 1, 18 townhouse units were constructed in the 400 block, and all are occupied. In addition, eight single-family homes were built, and six are occupied.
Four new homes included in the tour are in Phase 2, and one has been sold; the city recently demolished another 28-unit row house to make way for 25 single-family homes along the street.
As part of the joint project, the city provides infrastructure improvements in the area, including storm-line replacement, street paving and sidewalks.