Transform neighborhoods and increase equity

Erie’s neighborhoods have experienced some difficulty in the past several decades that include low rates of homeownership, increasing blight, and low home values. Given the new influx of funds, these organizations, in partnership with the City, have an historic opportunity to build and repair housing across the affordability spectrum, increase homeownership, and revive commercial corridors and anchor properties, all while allowing BIPOC resident to benefit from the construction boom. These strategies together will ensure that the new. 

7.1: Expand Erie Center for Arts and Technology

Investment Overview:
ECAT will create ECORP in order to develop and manage a broader set of community development programs, including a) developing commercial corridors along East Avenue (6th–8th St), b) building a jazz performance and workforce development center, c) launching a construction trades program with Erie School District and d) creating a master neighborhood revitalization plan. Successful implementation of this work can serve as a model for replication in other neighborhoods in Erie.

Goals and Benefits:
Such a considerable expansion of ECAT would could transform the East Bayfront into a thriving neighborhood of multiple uses. Though primarily residential, the East Bayfront would also include robust commercial corridors and centers for light entertainment and job training. These investments would also align substantially with other important projects, including training in construction trades and renovating homes in the East Bayfront.

7.2: Accelerate East Side Renaissance

Investment Overview:
East Side Renaissance was formed to restore hope through pathways to self-efficiency for the community members along Parade Street, between 6th & 12th Streets, running west to Holland Street. This organization is taking a two-pronged approach to revitalization. First, ESR in investing in people via pathways to self-efficiency, which include programming and support services related to financial comprehension, homeownership, and insurance necessities. Second, ESR is investing in place by focusing on the Parade Street commercial corridor.

Goals and Benefits:
To create an Erie equivalent of the Harlem Renaissance by renovating the built environment, supporting community needs, attracting new business, retaining existing businesses, removing blight, and infusing long-overdue investment into the buildings.

Cost, Sources, and Uses:


Progress and Next Steps:

Progress to Date:

  • Acquire 11 key properties along corridor
  • Retain developer to define corridor and key developments

Next Steps:

  • Identify full funding needs
  • Complete fundraising
  • Acquire additional properties along corridor
  • Esure alignment with other efforts in the East Bayfront

7.3: Revive Savocchio Opportunity Park

Investment Overview:
JASBP is a former superfund site that has remained undeveloped, but with the recent influx of federal dollars, may finally be put to productive use. The site could house a variety of uses, including solar power for the grid, a food production center, and community green space. Successful implementation of this work can serve as a model for replication in other neighborhoods in Erie. 

Goals and Benefits:

  • Provide sustainable energy capacity to the grid
  • Stimulate local economy by creating incubation opportunities for food and beverage sector
  • Create green and sustainable businesses in a former superfund site

7.4: Complete HANDS Hammermill affordable housing development

Investment Overview:

HANDS Hammermill is a 50-unit affordable housing development of East Lake Road in Erie’s East Side. The development will be focused on housing general occupancy work force, special needs, and homeless residents. The project is a partnership between HANDS, a nonprofit housing developer, HamotHealth Foundation, Erie Center for Arts and Technology, and the City of Erie.

Goals and Benefits:

  • Increase housing options and supply for low-and moderate-income residents in the East Bayfront, within a short distance of downtown employment opportunities
  • Address homelessness across Erie
  • Bring new development to Erie’s East Bayfront neighborhood

7.5: Implement Redevelopment Authority of the Cite of Erie (RACE) Comprehensive Housing Plan

Investment Overview:

In most neighborhoods in Erie, there is a gap between home value and hope repair, creating a disincentive for homeowners and landlords to build or renovate many housing units. Erie can accelerate home repairs by providing financial incentives to homeowners and landlords to renovate existing housing units in the city’s neighborhoods, thereby increasing home and neighborhood appealacross the city. The City of Erie has allocated $15M for a variety of programs, including grants to homeowners, loans to landlords, andadditional funds to neighborhood organizations. Most of these efforts are focused citywide, and neighborhoods outside the city can adopt a similar model to upgrade their housing stock, raise home values, and improve their neighborhoods.

Goals and Benefits:

  • 85+ homes demolished / blighted homes repaired

  • 180+ homes remediated of hazards (e.g., lead paint)

  • 60-70 vacant lots put back into productive reuse

  • 84+ rental properties improved

  • 102+ owner-occupied homes are brought up to code

  • 18 small and minority-owned contractors are provided support for work

  • 84+ families become new homeowners

7.6: Expand homeownership with a focus on Black residents

Investment Overview:

With several measures now in place to improve Erie’s housing stock and raise property prices, it is imperative that the City also expand opportunities for homeownership so that a wider array of citizens can benefit from these changes. At present, Erie’s homeownership numbers are low and inequitable: only 2% of black residents own their home in Erie. A robust new homeownership effort can reverse these inequities. Traditional programs such as first-time homeowner incentives and lease to purchase as well as more innovative tools such as community equity districts can be part of Erie’s comprehensive approach to this issue. While some smaller investments in homeownership have already been made, local stakeholders must decide on, and then fund, a broader strategy to boost homeownership and reduce inequities.

Goals and Benefits:

  • Allow a broader set of Erie residents to benefit from homeownership by building wealth
  • Reduce inequities in homeownership and wealth
  • Build local pride and civic engagement

Cost, Sources, and Uses:

$55k –Genesis Homeownership program (SSJ)

$1M –Homeownership incentive grant (ERA)

Progress and Next Steps:

  • Create delivery team to create comprehensive homeownership strategy aligned with timeline for home repairs
  • Raise capital for homeownership programs

7.7: Build capacity of BIPOC developers / construction workforce

Investment Overview:

As Erie’s neighborhoods undergo a revitalization driven by substantial home renovation, this investment would allow BIPOC andother residents in Erie to partake in the boom in development and construction work that will follow. Investments in programs to trainand capitalize BIPOC developers will help these residents oversee new development, while job training will ensure access to skilled,high-paying jobs in the construction industry. Erie has already made an initial investment in Paramount Pursuits to assist 15 construction industry participants in a 12-week program for 3 years. This program can be deepened by grants to and patient loans to minority-owned developers and construction teams in order to purchase equipment and strengthen their balance sheets. The timeline for these programs is especially important, as investments in and support to small-and minority-owned developers must happen immediately in order to benefit from the coming construction boom.

Goals and Benefits:

  • Create new local construction jobs

  • Allow small-and minority-owned businesses to benefit from construction boom

  • Help Erie reinvestment local capital, rather than hiring out-of-town contractors

7.8: Purchase and reuse Burton School property

Investment Overview:

Across Erie’s neighborhoods and especially in the East Bayfront, Erie has numerous historical buildings that could be used to provide critical social services, jumpstart new commercial corridors, and increase foot traffic. Local stakeholders can purchase these structures and bring them into productive use. While many sites are still to be identified, one example is theBurton School in the East Bayfront. Though its use has dwindled over the years, it is registered in PA’s Cultural Resource Geographic Information inventory as a historical site, and the property could be used as a hub for childcare, pre-K, and workforce development.

Goals and Benefits:

  • Increase critical local services (e.g., childcare) in Erie’s neighborhoods
  • Return historic properties to productive use
  • Stimulate neighborhood economy by creating local jobs and foot traffic

Cost, Sources, and Uses: 

Total cost: $6M+


$6M –Burton School purchase

Progress and Next Steps:

  • Determine full list of properties to purchase
  • Identify uses (e.g., childcare) for building list
  • Raise capital for building purchase and renovation

7.9: Create conservancy to preserve and support public parks

Investment Overview:

Several of Erie’s parks have seen considerable revitalization at the hands of nonprofit and private hands. The Perry Square Alliance has undertaken a significant effort to revitalize the park, the LEAF Arboretum has transformed with private support, and local businesses leaders helped clean up GriswaldPark. Given this positive track record, Erie can place its parks in a conservancy. Through this arrangement, the parks would still have public funding, but would be able to attract private dollars and more flexibly use volunteers and staff. This arrangement would also allow the city to focus more deeply on other issues.

Goals and Benefits:

  • Improve and protect parks and green spaces across Erie

  • Free up capacity at the City

  • Mobilize new private funds to invest in City’s parks

7.10: Boost capacity of community organizations (e.g., OWB, BEST, SSJ, others)

Investment Overview:

Neighborhood organizations like OWB and BEST have an extended track record of being nimble and using innovative methods to improve local housing and boost homeownership. With the City’s recent investments in home repairs through the Erie Redevelopment Authority, these neighborhood groups are now especially needed to “fill in the gaps” to ensure Erie is undertaking a comprehensive approach to housing. These organizations can expand programs focused on public housing ownership and value capture, homeownership expansion, housing model innovation (e.g., community investment trusts), and others. In order to do so, they require a “boost in capacity” to pilot and scale such programs in close collaboration with other entities (e.g., Erie Redevelopment Authority).

Goals and Benefits:

  • Ensure comprehensive approach to housing so that all residents in Erie have an opportunity to benefit from increases in housing stock and appreciating home values
  • Build capacity of effective local community organizations
  • Solidify partnerships across Erie’s housing system