Southeast suburbs receive $500,000 U.S. fair-housing grant

The United States Housing and Urban Development agency is giving $500,000 to fund a housing-mobility program in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

The grant will be announced tonight at a banquet held by the First Suburbs Project and Building One Pennsylvania.

The program aims to open affordable-housing opportunities in more well-off areas of Chester, Delaware and Montgomery Counties. According to a news release from the organizations, 89 percent of housing vouchers in those counties end up being used in more low-income areas, like Norristown.

The funds will be used to recruit new landlords to open rentals in higher-income towns; to educate and assist families in choosing where to live; and to stabilize towns that are struggling with unemployment and low school rankings.

Norristown Councilman Marlon Millner said the funds will be a good step toward "unwinding decades of practices that have unfortunately led to concentrated poverty in the suburbs and imbalanced communities in the region."

"At a time when Montgomery County is proposing to eliminate funding to service programs concentrated in Norristown, which attract folks who desire affordable housing," Millner said, "this program will provide dollars to open up new opportunities to people seeking good places to live and work."

The banquet will honor Millner, Sen. Bob Casey, and several other government and community leaders for their efforts at revitalizing downtrodden communities.