Monday, March 18, 2019

A Real and Lasting Impact

Carla and Michael Parker have owned their two story home on E. 28th Street since 1999. Raising kids and working multiple jobs they have worked hard to maintain and improve the house, built in 1914. When Revitalize E28 Grant information was delivered to the Parker home by an Academy Neighborhood Grant Administrator in June of 2018, Michael jumped at the chance to use the matching grant funds to improve some rattling, inefficient windows on the front of his house.

The Parker family was the first recipient of Revitalize E28 matching grant money. They won't be the last. In 2018 The Academy Neighborhood Association was awarded an Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority Renaissance Block Grant - funding to provide up to 20 homes on E. 28th Street with matching funds for street-side home improvements.

Why E. 28th Street? The answer is simple: research.

The Erie Refocused plan, prepared for the City of Erie and first unveiled in 2016, gives each neighborhood in Erie advice on "where to start working". (Source: Erie Refocused, page 67)

The Erie Refocused plan asserts that Erie should "provide financial incentives and support for home improvements on blocks with high potential for return on investment". That's exactly what the Revitalize E28 Grant Program is aiming to do. The Revitalize E28 program offers property owners a 50 percent reimbursement (up to $1,000) for improvement projects that will make a significant impact on not only the structure of the home, but also the views from the street.

ECGRA's Renaissance Block program was patterned after similar programs in other cities, where groups of neighbors work together to improve the look and feel of their part of town. In Jamestown, New York, the Renaissance Block Challenge has been provided more than 1.3 million dollars to over 450 properties in 45 different neighborhoods

The Revitalize E28 Renaissance Block Grant program was planned for two stages.

In Phase 1, 27 properties in the 300 block of E. 28th St. were eligible for funding. Three improvement projects were approved and one, the Parker family's, has been completed and reimbursed. Work on two other projects in Phase 1 is scheduled to take place in spring and summer of 2019.

In Phase 2, 35 properties in and near the 200 block of E. 28th St. are eligible for funding. As of late March 2019, all of the property owners have been notified and given paperwork with details of the program.

To promote participation in the Revitalize E28 program property owners will be given a yard sign to display while the work is being completed - and even longer if they would like.

There is funding for 10 projects in each phase. Because only three projects were approved in Phase 1 in 2018 it is likely that the application process will be reopened for Phase 1 properties. 

We're excited to see the changes that will be taking place in the heart of our neighborhood, and we're grateful for the opportunity given to our organization by the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority.