The Lancaster County commissioners are planning to take separate votes Wednesday on each of the affordable housing projects seeking county Affordable Rescue Plan Act money.
In their Tuesday work session, the commissioners continued last week’s discussion, at which seven projects seeking ARPA were presented.
The Lancaster County Redevelopment Authority determined that one of them, a project at the former Rebman’s site on Lancaster’s south side, doesn’t meet affordability criteria. The commissioners are voting on the other six.
One applicant, SDL Devco, is asking for $3 million for its project, The Yards, at the old Lancaster Stockyards site. It is 226 units, 45 of them qualified as affordable housing, at a total estimated project cost of $59 million.
HDC MidAtlantic is seeking $2 million for its $23.4 million Apartments at College Avenue project with 64 units, all affordable. Landis Quality Living is seeking $1 million for its 54-unit, $18.1 million project in Millersville (with 11 affordable housing units.) Other smaller projects are also seeking funding.
Commissioner Josh Parsons said he is in favor of funding several smaller projects, but not the three large ones.
“Whatever we do or don’t do is not going to make an impact on whether a project moves forward,” Parsons said.
Commissioner John Trescot pointed out that Lancaster County, like other counties, faces the issue of how to provide affordable housing for workers that staff local businesses like restaurants and hotels.
Stressing that tenants in affordable housing units are also paying rent, Trescot said tenants need to be able to pay for housing without allocating 60% to 70% or more of their take-home pay, and noted that area manufacturers are looking for workers. Trescot also said that filling units adds to the tax base.
“We have an opportunity on these projects to do things to actually make them go ahead,” Trescot said, characterizing the larger developments as “shovel-ready.”
“I will support each of these projects,” he said. “They should go forward. They seem like good projects to me.”
Board Chairman Ray D’Agostino agreed the commissioners should think about how to get affordable housing projects “across the finish line,” but said, like Parsons, that he thinks the larger projects will go ahead with or without the allocation of ARPA funds from the county. He suggested funding each of the projects at a flat contribution of $1 million each.
“I’m not going to pick and choose,” he said.