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The Mon Valley Alliance Foundation, the Greater Charleroi Community Development Corporation, and several nonprofits and business partners announced details and funding for the first Neighborhood Partnership Program in the Mid Mon Valley, a six-year plan that will drive $1.5 million into Charleroi for community improvement projects and social services.

It includes strategies to improve housing for seniors and the disabled, fostering main street and economic development, and expanding community services including those for the town’s growing immigrant population. Funds will be used to engage key community partners to deliver program services and projects in these areas.

Funders for the NPP are Fourth Street Barbecue, LaCarte Enterprises, Key Bank, and UPMC Health Plan. Collectively, the four companies will provide $250,000 annually for the next six years to fund the plan.

Housing

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Home Ownership Center Down Payment/Closing Cost Fund

Blueprints is a community action agency committed to supporting low-income individuals and families. Its programmatic footprint in Charleroi includes Early Head Start; Head Start; Pre-K, Women; Infants & Children (WIC); Little Free Libraries and the Home Ownership Center.

Charleroi’s 24.3% poverty rate (as compared to 9.4% in Washington County) indicates a strong need for Blueprints’ services (2019 American Community Survey, US Census Bureau). With a renter occupancy rate of 40% and a vacancy rate of 20.1%, Blueprints will focus Home Ownership Center assistance in Charleroi to support residents, including Haitian immigrants, in attaining home ownership. 

 

In partnership with the Redevelopment Authority of Washington County & the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, Blueprints offers a Down Payment/Closing Cost Fund through its Home Ownership Center in Washington County.

Through the fund, Blueprints’ HUD-Certified Housing Counselors:

  • Identify first-time homebuyers who will be mortgage-ready within a 6–9-month timeframe who are at or below 100% of HUD’s Median Income threshold and in need of down payment and/or closing cost assistance.

  • Coordinate down payment and/or closing cost assistance for eligible first-time homebuyers up to $10,000 for those who at or below 100% of HUD’s Median Income threshold and up to $15,000 for those at or below 50% of HUD’s Median Income threshold.

  • Ensure the first-time homebuyers can put down at least $1,000 from their own funds towards the down payment and/or closing costs that Blueprints assists to pay.

 

The Home Ownership Center is the only center of its kind in the County and serves as the catalyst for all available housing resources through national, state, and local programs. All services are available in-person and virtually and include these focus areas:

  • Pre-Home Purchase

  • Home Maintenance & Repair

  • Credit Repair

  • Pre-Home Closing Counseling/Post-Purchase Counseling

  • Foreclosure Prevention

Year 1-2 Accomplishments

  • 7 families receive pre-home purchasing counseling

    • Resulting in 1 purchased home without down payment assistance

  • Mitigated 14 families from foreclosure

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Home Modifications Program

Residents of the Charleroi area may be familiar with TRPIL’s services. It had an office in Charleroi for a number of years before consolidating its offices in Washington. In October 2019, TRPIL became an affiliate of Voices for Independence (VFI), a sister organization based in Erie. TRPIL’s and VFI’s founding beliefs in the independence of its consumers and their choice to safely live in their own homes. The addition of some low-cost, low-barrier, high-impact home modifications will reduce older adults’ risk of falling or other injuries. It will also improve their general safety, increase accessibility, and enhance their functional abilities in their home.

 

The modifications could include the installation of grab bars, railings, and lever-handled doorknobs as well as faucets. It could involve the installation of ramps, tub/shower transfer benches, handheld shower heads, raised toilet seats, risers for chairs and sofas, and non-slip strips for bathroom areas or stairs. The staff could also recommend bathtub cutouts or entry-less showers. All current home modification staff members are Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS).

 

The organization stands with the scientific knowledge, such as those used at Johns Hopkins University in the CAPABLE program, that people living in their own homes are healthier, have reduced hospital stays, and are able to participate in community activities as opposed to those living in nursing homes or other assisted care facilities. According to the CAPABLE program, roughly $3,000 in program costs yielded more than $20,000 in savings in medical costs driven by reductions in both inpatient and outpatient expenditures.

VFI believes with CAPABLE when it states in today’s healthcare environment, improving health largely falls outside of healthcare facilities. Home is where health is. People with functional limitations and chronic conditions are more than four times more likely than the general population to be among the five percent costliest users of health services. And yet, function is rarely addressed in medical visits. Through a team of professionals working in an older adults’ home, a healthier situation can be secured with some modest home modifications. 

Staff members have encountered those, in Charleroi, who do not have English as their first language. The agency has resources available that it can utilize to approach different agencies for translation services as well as cultural suggestions.

To apply for home modifications please visit: https://www.vficil.org/charleroi/

Main Street/Economic Development

Magic City Riverfront Park

Redevelopment of the former Charleroi football stadium as part of Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Brownfields to Playfields Program. Currently, Phase 1 is completed with renovated parking, boat launch and river access.

Approximately four acres remain to be developed into a new recreational destination for the community. The stadium redevelopment will give the Borough of Charleroi a main community asset in the nearby retail district (one block away), allowing for the programming of events and activities, which will result in increased economic activity in the commercial district along McKean and Fallowfield avenues. Currently, the Mon Valley Alliance has developed the first phase at a cost of approximately $450,000.

Reclaiming a former brownfield into a community asset for residents from within Charleroi, as well as outside Charleroi, to utilize for recreational opportunities and serve as a spark for economic activity in the borough, is the primary motivation for this development. The stadium site is in a flood zone, which prevents the property from being developed for residential, commercial, or industrial use.  A community park development is the only reasonable path toward repurposing this property.

An overall plan has been developed for the entire site, and the current initiative is to develop the remaining four acres into a community asset that includes a large picnic pavilion with kitchen facilities, playground equipment, amphitheater and seating area, pickle ball and bocce ball courts, covered parking with solar panels, walking trail/overlook, restrooms, and great lawn.

The MVA is committed to working alongside the Charleroi Board of Trustees and the Borough of Charleroi to secure funding and provide project management into the future phases of development of the park. Additional monies for following phases are looking to be acquired using the Charleroi NPP monies as leverage.

Main Street Improvements

Charleroi’s business district, once the 4th largest retail district per capita, in the state, has suffered from years of disinvestment. Even so, many longtime businesses still exist and entrepreneurs are beginning to see the value of locating in the community.

The business district is served by two “main streets” of McKean and Fallowfield, which have approximately 5,000 vehicles using the streets daily, according to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Average Annual Daily Traffic County reporting.  The commercial business district is a blend of offices, retail storefronts, restaurants, apartments, and entertainment. There has been recent investment and business growth in Charleroi as well as interested businesses looking to locate to the community. 

 

To promote and secure growth in Charleroi's Business District, there are important improvements that need to be completed.  These improvements will attract and sustain new and existing businesses to locate and remain located in Charleroi as well as bring patrons and tourism into the town to shop, eat, and seek entertainment.

 

As such, the NPP committee sees Main Street Improvements as a key element in its strategy.

  • Replace broken/outdated Borough Christmas Decorations

  • Improve landscaping at three borough entrances and continued maintenance

  • Repair and replace faulty and degraded streetlights along the McKean and Fallowfield business districts

  • Replace current trash receptacles along McKean and Fallowfield Avenues

  • Replace and update business signage along McKean and Fallowfield Avenues

Year 1-2 Accheviements

  • New Christmas/Holiday decorations ordered for the main streets

Community Services

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Workforce Development/Financial Coaching & Facility Work

When people and families feel financially stable, they are better able to contribute to the overall health of their communities, in both tangible and intangible ways. MVI is successfully assisting people on their career development path and improving their financial situation. MVI has incorporated a unique bundle of group-oriented and one-on-one services in employment assistance, income supports (referrals, access to public benefits, etc.) and financial coaching. These core services are integrated to provide a comprehensive approach to employment, financial capability, and personal wealth building.

We know that financially stable individuals contribute important benefits to the community, particularly through increased purchasing power, an improved tax base, and increased public safety. However, many of our program participants have significant barriers and are not financially stable when they enroll. MVI’s program addresses these problems by offering participants a path to improved career-development skills, improved personal financial management skills, and guidance to resources that can help them implement their new skills successfully in the workplace (ex: transportation to work, childcare, health insurance). We provide these services through direct one-on-one coaching by MVI staff as well as through a number of partnerships, including direct connection to employers, a vitally important ingredient to our participants’ success.

When someone contacts MVI, the client is connected with an in-take coordinator. An orientation is conducted on a one-to-one basis by an Employment & Financial Coach. The orientation session includes an “Intro to Budgeting & Credit Management” workshop that kicks off the financial coaching sessions. One-on-One meetings follow where participants are guided through a detailed intake form that focuses on the individual’s short- and long-term career and financial goals. Participants are given assistance with connecting with the local CareerLink and other resources, depending on their needs. Staff maintain contact with the participant as they work through the curriculum at their own pace. Additionally, participants are given the opportunity to engage in Job Clubs. Job Clubs offer an opportunity for employers to engage with the participants, provide financial literacy information, participate in mock-interviews, and provide one-on-one guidance and feedback to the participants.

MVI participants can also access our HUD-certified housing counseling program, which helps people prepare to buy their own home. MVI’s HUD-certified housing counselor can help educate participants on budgeting, saving, and preparing for home ownership. All these services are free to the public.

 

To deliver these services to the public, at no cost, and within the Borough of Charleroi itself, MVI opened offices dedicated to these programs in Charleroi’s downtown. By locating our services in this part of Washington County, we can bring the services to individuals who are most in need. By offering these services in Charleroi, we are hoping to make our effective career development, financial coaching, and housing counseling programs accessible to the families in this area who have limited incomes and cannot easily travel around the region for services.

Year 1-2 Accomplishments

  • Completed necessary improvements/expansion to the Mon Valley Initiative Outreach Center

  • Developed a marketing plan for Charleroi specific programming - translated into 3 different languages

  • 84 Low-Income Individuals served through Workforce Development & Financial Coaching Services
    o Resulting in 25 individuals with new employment

Charleroi Office Contact Information: 

724-565-8040

435 McKean Ave., Charleroi, PA 15022

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Getting To Know You!

Originally built in 1912 as a U.S. Post Office, the site of the now Library was purchased in 1972 and renovated to open in 1980 as a Public Library, which is now a registered historic building; considered a hub of the community.

As the Charleroi Area Public Library seems to be a gathering place for technology use and the desire for meeting space, the Board Members are resolved for the future use of our Library to look like and serve as a more technologically updated, welcoming, safe location.

With new technology, such as a Smartboard and Laptops; the connections to our community members would be generously expanded to include academic tutoring, as well as technological tutoring or skill related technology classes.

This would also allow an area for learning in the age of today's technology to be utilized by all generations. Programming classes could also be offered as student needs occur and adult interest in the advancement of their understanding and use is peaked. With these additions the library would be in a much better position to connect with all ages, skill levels, and economic sectors; of which so many are economically disadvantaged and therefore depend on the library for their technology needs. 

Within the past few years, an influx of people from various countries; Haiti, Nigeria, and Jamaica have come to work and reside within the Charleroi Area. Many within this immigrant population come into the library for specific utilization of the technology. Many require assistance to complete their tasks. Therefore, classes would be an open invitation for the newest residents of the Charleroi Area. The Charleroi Area Public Library wants to keep open the doors as the best ‘community hub’ to service All the needs of our constituents. 

This Library project would impact many dominions of our community learning needs. The basis of the impact would transpire within three fundamental sectors: General Operations, Programming, and Capacity Building. With the public able to realize all aspects of the library; hours, programs/details/dates, available technology, etc. the library, as the community hub, would be able to offer much more to an economically disadvantaged area, as well as to an increasing immigrant population.  Impacting learning through all generations as driven by the interest in new technology, support of learning through technology designed programming, meeting areas for small business or social groups, and lending an area for social interaction for all countries ‘melting’ into the Belgium, Italian, Polish, Slovakian Charleroi Area.

Therefore, to fulfill this, the Library Board proposes ENRICHMENT, EXPANSION, and ENVELOPING.

ENRICHMENT

The downstairs area would be renovated for expanded community use. The area would be aesthetically pleasing and easy to maintain, a safe environment, open for implementing technology classes, tutoring (ESL, GED classes, etc.), business meetings, social clubs, cooking classes, etc. With the availability of fitting space, the expansion of enriching opportunities would be endless and open to the needs of the community.

EXPANSION

The downstairs area would provide the means for people to stay connected to others.  Utilization of the computer/technology classes for all ages would be possible here without interfering or interrupting other patrons within the main sector of the library. ​As with all new programming, as the demand arises, the opportunities to expand and include could now be made real.

ENVELOPING

The downstairs area would provide the place to develop a sense of community belonging and to help spur inclusion within all age groups, as well as ethnic backgrounds.​

Year 1-2 Accomplishments

  • Completed “Get to Know You” Library renovations

Meadow Park Rehabilitation & Community Park Maintenance

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Meadow Park was developed by the Greater Charleroi Community Development Corporation (GCCDC) and has recently turned ownership back to the Borough of Charleroi.  Meadow Park has been a cornerstone project, beginning with the development of 9 new townhouses in 2001, in partnership with the Borough of Charleroi, Mon Valley Initiative, PA DCED, National City Bank, and the Washington County Redevelopment Authority.

In 2009, the remaining parcel that was undeveloped was turned into a green space to be available for the residents of Charleroi. The park includes benches, trees, green space, a pergola, and a walking path. The park is conveniently located to senior housing and provides seniors a place to enjoy outdoor activities and serves as a social gathering place.  The park is used by residents daily as the park is in the heart of the residential district of Charleroi.

Meadow Park is accessible, within a 10-minute walk, by approximately 80% of the Charleroi population. Uses over the past 15 years have included pet walking, senior gatherings, walking, book reading, playing ball, and general social gatherings.


The park needs improvements and repairs since its initial development in 2009.  Meadow Park improvements would include handicap accessibility, a resurfaced walking path, a pergola roof, wall maintenance, a public garden, lighting, picnic benches, security cameras, fencing, and shade trees. The much-needed improvements would allow for a broader use of the community asset by senior groups, youth groups, and general community usage.

3rd Street Park

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The Greater Charleroi Community Development Corporation and the Borough of Charleroi have determined that Charleroi’s 3rd Street Park has structural concerns regarding its equipment, walking path, and vegetation. The park is surrounded by residential homes but remains unused. Through the NPP, renovations to the park will turn a dated and unused park into a clean and relaxing green space for the community.

 

The park was originally developed in 1981 with contributions from the Borough of Charleroi, the U.S Department of Interior, and the PA. Department of Community Affairs. It has not had any updates since 2000, when the Borough of Charleroi and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Recreation and Conservation rehabilitated the park.


In the parks’ current condition, major safety concerns have arisen due to large pine tree roots making the sidewalk cracked and extremely uneven. The sidewalk was a risk for injury among residents of all ages, resulting in removal of the pine tree being the first renovation made to the park.


The first goal of 3rd Street Park is to create a blank slate. The cleared park would segue into architectural/engineering drawings to be redeveloped as a sitting park. The park would create another space easily accessible to nearby residents. Once completed, the 3rd Street Park would increase the nearby residential real estate, as already witnessed after the completed renovations of Meadow Park in the Borough of Charleroi in 2009.

Year 1-2 Accomplishments

  • Removed Large overgrown tree

  • Removed all dated playground equpiment

  • Engaged with Architect/Engineer to develop plan for park

Immigrant/Community Liaison

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With the opportunity of immigrants making Charleroi their home, re-development opportunities within the commercial district are abound with potential new small businesses. Partnering with the Mon Valley Regional Chamber to host an immigrant community liaison to aid the growing immigrant population by being a conduit to government and non-profit assistance services provided within the NPP and beyond. The ambassador will be a catalyst for immigrant entrepreneurialism and other issues that new citizens encounter regarding their new community, school district, businesses, and centers of employment.

 

Getro Bernabe, a former Haitian Cost Guard Language Laboratory Chief Manager, was hired in April 2023 after being referred from the Mid Mon Valley Transit Authority and the Charleroi Area School District. The Borough of Charleroi has had recent immigration growth within the last three years, discovered through a brief survey conducted by Bernabe in April 2023, showing a total of about 2,000 new residents from 44 different countries. Bernabe is dedicated to building a bridge between the newcomers and the community of Charleroi for a successful settlement.

Year 1-2 Accomplishments

  • Has enrolled 70+ students in English classes with the Literacy Council of Southwestern PA.

  • Assisted at Free English and Life Skills classes held at the Presbyterian Church.

  • Assist +20 families with the registration of their kids at Charleroi School District.

  • Assisted the Charleroi Area School District in teaching families about the needed vaccinations and taking families to Washington to get vaccinations.

  • Assisted +35 people find employment/filling out applications/connect with local agencies to find work

  • Creating flyers for free financial literacy and Charleroi behavioral education classes.

  • Distributing flyers pertaining to positive behaviors

  • Interpretation at Washington Greene County Job Training Agency, EARN.

  • Assisted families/women applying for SNAP and WIC​

  • Worked with Monessen Family Center to distribute baby/children clothing, supplies and toys, coats, clothing, bookbags, and school supplies.

  • Met with local organizations to discuss the greatest needs of the community

  • Met with Haitian small business owners in Charleroi.

  • Assisted new residents in finding housing.

  • Mediated between landlords and tenants to avoid escalation.

  • Interpretation at hearing at the magistrate office.

  • ​Translated for cfsbank in Charleroi and assisted in registering 84 immigrants with their first bank accounts.​​​​

  • Setting up Department of Health on site testing at Charleroi Public Library

    • January 10 and 11, 2024

  • Celebrating Haitian Flag Day 

    • Free community celebration on May 18 2023 & 2024

  • Community Cleaning Day

    • May 21 2023 & May 26 2024

  • Coordinate Movie Nights starting Jun 16, 2024

  • Supporting Charleroi Independence Day Celebrations

  • Supporting Liberian Independence Day

  • Setting up radio station on Fenord FM 106.8 under Zeno FM to get information to community.

    • Educational Shows

      • American English Show

      • How to turn business into reality (Mean Business Ladies)

      • Migrant Education Program

      • American Constitution and Culture

      • Small Business Promotions

    • Information

      • Your Community Show

      • Flash about important event in the community

    • Entertainment

      • Mixtapes, French, Gospel, Reggaeton, Konpa and American

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