With the influx of Marcellus activity into rural Northeastern Pennsylvania, Trehab has worked hard to assist low-to-middle income consumers in capitalizing upon the opportunities which this industry presents. Simultaneously, the agency has increased its focus on housing development and assistance to combat an emergent housing crisis. Please read below for more information on Trehab’s response, or use the link to the left for resources on Marcellus Shale and its effects on Northeastern Pennsylvania residents.
Workforce and Economic Development
Trehab’s Workforce Development Department, is collaborating with the Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center (SCCTC), the Northern Tier Regional Planning and Development Corporation (NTRPDC), and other entities to train and equip local residents to best take advantage of the opportunities the Marcellus industry presents. Through Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funds, qualifying adults and youth can receive assistance in obtaining training in high demand fields. As part of this process, Trehab facilitates WorkKeys © testing to assess key job skills. To prepare for this exam, and to build skills, prospective examinees can access the Worldwide Interactive Network (WIN) courseware from Workforce Development Offices.
It is important for local workers to become qualified for industry employment. Toward this end, Trehab has been involved in previous Fit4Natural Gas cycles, and provided preparation and referral services for the ShaleNet training course at the SCCTC. This course equipped job seekers to become roustabouts.
Additionally, workforce offices work with various companies to host job fairs and meetings. One company met with prospective employees six times within a two month time span at the Susquehanna Workforce office.
When gas and oil companies brought pre-trained workers into the area from out-of-state, the local housing market became saturated beyond capacity. In a competitive market, landlords have been able to increase rental rates to levels unaffordable to many lower and middle class residents. Homelessness has increased, as has the number of families living in unsuitable situations. (See the resources on the Marcellus Links page for statistics and more information.)
To address these problems, Trehab has coupled the long-term development of new housing with crisis rental assistance to meet immediate needs. Through the agency’s prior work, 92 new living spaces have been created in 6 developments. (More information on this housing is available here.)
In 2011 PHFA approved the funding of two additional developments- Schoolhouse Hill in Mehoopany and Greenwood Gardens in Wellsboro. These represent an additional 60 pleasant, affordable residences entering the market. On July 9th, 2012 ground was broken at the Mehoopany development, and full occupancy is expected by September first of 2013. Occupancy is expected to begin at Greenwood Gardens that month as well.
In 2012, The Meadows at Tiffany Pines development in Bridgewater Township was also approved, representing an addition 40 affordable townhouse style rental units. Construction began on this project in the summer of 2013.
Trehab does not elevate its rental rates to match the excessive area inflation. The agency plans to continue this development work in the years to come.
In the meantime, Trehab’s Community Services department utilizes a variety of funding streams to combat homelessness and support renter retention. With short-term and crisis rental and utility payment support available to qualifying individuals, residents are assisted in maintaining or obtaining a safe living space.