Get Money for Sprucing Up

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If you have wanted to fix the outside of your home but didn't have the cash you may just be in luck.

Some people in Wilkes-Barre can get up to $5,000 from the city to put toward a little spring cleaning.

Kevin Van Why wants a new window on the front of his home along Blackman Street in Wilkes-Barre. Since he moved there three years ago, he has improved the outside of his home but said there is more work to be done and not enough money to do it.

It's the same for Mary Dougherty, who would like a fresh coat of paint on her home.

Wilkes-Barre just received a $250,000 state grant funded with casino money. The city will use the money to help people who live on the main streets leading in and out of the city spruce up the outside of their homes.

"We have 14,000 that come into the downtown every day to work. We want to start encouraging the residents and the visitors to say, 'Wow, this city is a great city. Maybe I want to invest in the city,'" said Economic Development Coordinator Greg Barrouk.

To participate, property owners will submit to the city what type of work they want done to their home. If they are selected, the property owner will only be responsible for half the bill, up to $5,000. The city will cover the other half, again up to $5,000.

"I know I had a hard time putting the improvements into my home because I don't have quite enough money to do it. Programs out there to match what I can put out? I think it's a great idea," Van Why said.

"They (friends) said it looks terrible. They could not believe how many empty homes and how the roads are. They said it's disgusting. Although it's a coal town it's still terrible because the homes are just let go," Dougherty said.

City officials said within the next few weeks they will mail fliers to property owners who qualify for the grant money.