Keystone Communities Program
Keystone Communities is a community revitalization program that provides funding for physical improvements, such as neighborhood and project planning, implementation strategies such as façade improvements, and large scale development projects. This program targets its efforts toward specific Pennsylvania communities to invigorate residential and commercial areas. Keystone Communities aims to restore residential neighborhoods and weakened downtown areas as well as dilapidated industrial and manufacturing sites. These areas have struggled with sinking property values, poor aesthetic qualities and negative perceptions of public safety. This program represents a well-coordinated effort to advance struggling communities and improve the quality of life in both downtowns and neighborhoods.
The program features four designations for communities with diverse needs:
- Main Street – funding and technical assistance for a community’s downtown revitalization
- Elm Street – funding and technical assistance for residential and mixed-use areas in proximity to a central business district
- Enterprise Zone – funding and technical assistance for disadvantaged industrial/manufacturing and business sites
- Community – designation and potential access to funding and Neighborhood Assistance tax credits
The Keystone Communities Program is funded through a state grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). To revitalize Philadelphia’s communities in need of development assistance, the Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD) would administer the program’s funds. The Commerce Department would utilize State funding to direct a Main Street Program in targeted neighborhood community areas (TNCAs) and other city corridors.
Keystone Communities could support the former Philadelphia Elm Street Program, which seeks to revitalize older, residential neighborhoods adjacent to commercial districts. The Elm Street Program now operates in conjunction with existing commercial corridor development programs, such as ReStore Philadelphia Corridors, an initiative to help energize neighborhood commercial corridors and re-establish their roles as ideal places to shop, work and meet neighbors. The City implements other similar initiatives, such as the CDC Tax Credit Program, funded by community development block grants to facilitate economic development. The Commerce Department would use State funding to provide Keystone Community planning grants to between four and eight organizations. This funding would also be directed towards storefront improvement grants for neighborhood commercial corridors that are not designated as TNCAs. The Commerce Department will issue a Request For Proposals upon award of the funding from the State.
The City of Philadelphia would implement Main Street funding in five specific areas to capture a local, incremental and comprehensive strategy for targeted corridors:
- Economic Restructuring
- Public Safety
Keystone Communities also provides funding for accessibility improvements for those with permanent physical disabilities. The Adaptive Modifications Program in Philadelphia provides these necessary home improvements to disabled Philadelphia residents so that their homes are more accommodating and accessible. These modifications allow people with disabilities to continue leading fulfilling lives in their own homes.