Regional organizations get a boost to fight blight through Renaissance Block Program

Organizations around the region will be receiving an extra boost to help homeowners improve neighborhoods and increase market values.

The Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority (ECGRA) has awarded $350,000 to four different projects. The ECGRA designed a program that targets aging or neglected areas to combat blight.

The ECGRA has annually given out grants for their Renaissance Block Program for the last five years.

Wednesday, the authority was able to distribute a total of $350,000 for four Erie County boroughs and organizations.

“Renaissance Block is really unique because it’s us working with local governments and nonprofits to get the money directly in the hands of homeowners,” said Dr. Perry Wood, executive director of the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority.

The Bayfront Eastside Taskforce, Impact Corry, the Borough of Edinboro, and Union City will utilize the money for different home improvement projects.

Dr. Wood explained that these funds help homeowners who are unsure about investing in improvements.

“It matches up to 50% of their investment up to $5,000 per home so it’s significant,” Dr. Wood said.

The Union City borough manager said past grants from the ECGRA have directly benefited their community like this house behind me that has received a new paint job and roofing.

“This money has provided funding for people who can’t afford to possibly do the full improvement that they need done to their house and if they don’t keep up on their regular maintenance of their homes they will become blighted properties,” said Cindy Wells, union city borough manager.

Wells said other grants from the ECGRA like Mission Main Street and community parks money helps the borough get well-needed facelifts.

“We’ve had over $2 million in improvements done just based on those grants,” Wells said. “There’s a lot of changes that have happened in Union City and ECGRA has been a good provider for us as far as grant funding.”

The Union City Borough Office will be opening a new round of grant funding for their residents. Applications to receive those grants begin January 1.