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INDIANA COUNTY: Commissioners support idea of new housing assistance

by RANDY WELLS on April 25, 2013 10:50 AM

The Indiana County commissioners on Wednesday proclaimed April as Fair Housing Month in the county, passed a resolution reaffirming their support of county programs offering equal housing opportunities, and then agreed to back a new concept in housing assistance aimed at especially helping lower-income residents.

Bonni Dunlap, executive director of the county’s Department of Human Services, said the new concept being rolled out — which doesn’t have a name yet — will offer a “bundle” of support services to people who need housing and who need skills to become self-sufficient. Lending expertise to the program will be Family Promise (which provides meals, lodging and case management to homeless families in the county), Career T.R.A.C.K., the Indiana County Housing Authority, the Indiana County Community Action Program and the county’s human services department.

Dunlap explained that a resident needing housing could receive assistance through the program, and as part of the contract would agree to meet regularly with a case manager and attend classes to improve his or her skills for managing personal finances and his or her employability skills.

Dunlap estimated a participant’s involvement in the new program may require three to four hours per week.

In another action related to housing, the commissioners agreed to extend for an additional six months the county’s option to purchase the Clinton Street property in White Township where a proposed shelter for homeless veterans will be built.

The property is owned by Julius Triber Jr. and Eileen Triber, of Clearwater, Fla.

The original option agreement expires May 22. According to the Indiana County Office of Planning and Development, the extension is needed because a final funding contract for the housing project has not been executed by the state.

The commissioners Wednesday also accepted a bid for the leasing of sub-surface natural gas rights in a 99-acre linear tract under the Ghost Town Trail in Burrell, Center and Brush Valley townships.

Ed Patterson, director of Indiana County Parks & Trails, said that under the lease agreement, XTO Energy will pay $1,025 per acre in fees and an 18 percent royalty on any future gas removed from the property.

The lease stipulates that no facilities will be located on the surface of the property.

Patterson also said he hopes, and he believes the public would also hope, that money generated by the lease would be used to support the county’s parks and trails network.

The commissioners also proclaimed April 21-27 as Volunteer Week in the county and urged county residents to serve as volunteers in their communities. A list of more than 20 agencies needing and welcoming volunteers is posted at

The commissioners also proclaimed May 12-18 as National Nursing Home Week in the county and recognized the high level of care many county residents receive at such facilities.

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