Applications are now being accepted for Beautiful Blocks, a home improvement program jointly sponsored by NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania and the cities of Scranton and Carbondale. Beautiful Blocks provides matching grants of up to $1,000 per property to groups of five or more residents to help them make exterior improvements to their homes. This is the program's fourth year in Scranton and second in Carbondale, and NeighborWorks is pleased to once again partner with each city to offer Beautiful Blocks to their residents.
The Beautiful Blocks program seeks to make neighborhoods throughout the area more attractive places to live. Eligible exterior improvements include everything from landscaping and painting to larger projects like sidewalks and lamp posts. Grants will be awarded through a competitive application process. Applications will be judged on the number of participating residents, project impact and coordination, and the likelihood of neighbors continuing to work together in the future.
Pre-applications are being accepted until March 21. Awards will be announced in May, with work taking place throughout the summer. According to NeighborWorks President & CEO Jesse Ergott, "We look forward to neighbors coming together and taking collective steps to improve their neighborhoods throughout the City of Scranton in our fourth Beautiful Blocks program cycle. Our first three years in Scranton were a great success in seeing residents work together in making their neighborhood a better place through their involvement with Beautiful Blocks."
Over the first three cycles of Beautiful Blocks in the City of Scranton, more than 260 individual projects have been completed by Scranton residents, grouped into 34 block groups. More than $219,000 in grant funding has been distributed as part of these projects, with participating residents contributing more than $485,000 in matching funds to improve their neighborhoods.
Residents must match their grant awards dollar-for-dollar, unless they meet certain income guidelines. Residents whose household income is less than 80% of the area median income are only required to provide a 20% match. For example, if a resident meets these income guidelines and receive the maximum $1,000 grant award, they must personally contribute at least $200 towards their project. Otherwise, participants must match the $1,000 grant with $1,000 of their own funds.
Ergott said, "After a successful first year in Carbondale, we look forward to building on the positive impact of Beautiful Blocks to the City of Carbondale. We appreciate the support of our community partners in supporting this program, and encourage Carbondale residents to join with their neighbors in improving their neighborhood through Beautiful Blocks."
In the first year of the Beautiful Blocks program operating in Carbondale, three groups of neighbors participated, with more than $15,000 in grant funding awarded. This grant funding helped to leverage more than $30,000 in funds invested from participating homeowners.
“Mayor Justin Taylor is very excited about getting into our neighborhoods with Beautiful Blocks to create meaningful relationships with our residents, the City of Carbondale, and NeighborWorks NEPA,” Michele Bannon, Carbondale City Clerk and member of the NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania Board of Directors, said of the program’s expansion into Carbondale. “We see that building strong relationships between neighbors allows for a thriving, unified, and safe community dedicated to making Carbondale a great place to live, work, and raise a family.”
Residents interested in participating in the Beautiful Blocks program are asked to contact Gerard Hetman, NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania Community Development Specialist, at (570) 558-2490 or email@example.com, to request a pre-application.