Lancaster City Hall 2018

Lancaster City Hall

When: Lancaster City Council meeting, Oct. 26.

What happened: City Council unanimously voted to authorize appropriation of $5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for affordable housing projects. In addition, council unanimously approved a resolution allowing the $1 million purchase of the 838 Marietta Ave. parking lot to develop the property into multiple affordable housing units. The city intends to enter into an agreement with HDC MidAtlantic, a local nonprofit, to take title to the property and develop it. The nonprofit would eventually become the owner and manager of the property. The city is acquiring the 1-acre lot from real estate developer Gary Neff.

Why it’s important: In May, the U.S. Treasury Department said ARPA funds could be used for affordable housing. Mayor Danene Sorace recently asked the council to allocate $5 million of the city’s $39.5 million ARPA funds to generate affordable housing projects.

Discussion: Before approving the mayor’s request, council member Jaime Arroyo made a motion to amend the ordinance, asking that when the $5 million set aside for affordable housing would be used, it would come to council first and then be authorized by resolution. This allows city officials to remain engaged in the process and have oversight over the funds. “This also gives the public increased ability to hear about and make comments on projects as they’re brought forward,” council member Amanda Bakay said. The amendment was approved 7-0.

Quotable: “Councilors, I think you should acknowledge that you are now part of the largest direct investment Lancaster city has made in affordable housing. It certainly will not be the last, but this is not nothing. I want to thank you and the community for your support in moving in this direction. It’s a collaborative effort,” council President Ismail Smith-Wade El said after the motion to allocate $5 million to affordable housing was approved, to which community members, and the mayor’s administration applauded. “This is definitely a start we’re celebrating,” Sorace said.

Snow removal: Council voted to table the proposed snow-related amendments to the city’s street and sidewalk ordinance until Nov. 23, to gather more information from the public. “At the last council meeting we heard a lot of very important comments about the challenges of parking,” Stephen Campbell, director of public works, said. Campbell added that the southeast and the southwest have the greatest challenges in terms of parking opportunities and alternatives and officials are working on finding solutions to address those issues.

What’s next: Council’s committee meeting is Nov. 1.

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