WILKES-BARRE — As she rode the bus and watched the Heritage Point Apartments on Dana Street go up, Paula Hardy liked what she saw.
Hardy and her husband, Harold Yurchak, were looking to move out of their neighborhood off Blackman Street that was getting worse and wondered if there was room for them in one of the 56 units, she said.
“Wow, maybe we should try to get in,” Hardy recalled saying to her husband.
They moved into unit 201, a one-bedroom apartment in July. “We love it; central air, central heat, no complaints,” Hardy, 42, said Monday as officials held a ribbon cutting and tours of the unoccupied units.
Thomas Wilk and his mother, Deborah, would like to make it their home as well. Wilk, 33, who he’s originally from Nanticoke, would like to get two-bedroom unit and his mother, her own one-bedroom unit, he said.
“They’re beautiful,” Wilk said of what he saw on his tour.
Residents must meet income guidelines to qualify for the general occupancy complex developed by HDC MidAtlantic on the site of the former Wyoming Valley Hospital. The property in the Rolling Mill Hill section of the city was vacant and rundown before the Lancaster-based affordable housing developer began construction last year.
Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George, one of the officials invited to a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday, said he grew up nearby. “I can remember Wyoming Valley Hospital. I was born here,” George, 65, said.
“HDC invested over $14 million in the project, and I welcome all new investment to the city,” George said.
Michael Carper, president and CEO of HDC MidAtlantic, said 44 of the units are rented and federal low-income Section 8 housing vouchers are accepted. By law HDC must accept them, but the complex is not project-based Section 8 like Sherman Hills, he pointed out.
“While I’m very proud of the homes we’ve developed or preserved in the communities we serve, I’m particularly excited to introduce Heritage Point to you today and reflect on the real transformation that occurred on this site, Carper said.
Next-door-neighbor Tom Dorko toured the complex and gave HDC credit for improving the neighborhood.
“Now that it’s finished, I think it will fit in,” Dorko said.
The project was built with the help of $1.1 million Low Income Housing Tax Credits awarded through the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. Brian Hudson, executive director and CEO of the PHFA, said competition is stiff for the credits that are sold to investors and used to defray construction costs.
“This is one of the models I use in (Washington) D.C. when I’m lobbying for more credits,” Hudson said.