Affordable Housing

Upgrade/Renovate Existing Housing Stock


Titusville has an opportunity to attract a new population. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a dichotomy of challenge and opportunity for communities across the country. The fragility of systems and the stability of norms are being tested, and people are questioning the strength and safety of places they once called home. Roughly one-in-five Americans either have relocated due to the pandemic or know someone who has and with continuing shifts in the remote-working movement, this pattern of migration is expected to continue. Millennials and Gen Z youths are now in their peak migration ages, creating opportunities for communities offering a rich quality of life to grow their populations with youthful and diverse newcomers.

Housing is a critical building block for capturing this migrating population and growing a strong and vibrant community. When asked about housing challenges in Titusville, affordability, blight, and outdated stock were among the top issues across all audiences – signs of a struggling housing ecosystem. If this system is broken, Titusville risks losing its resident populations and missing this moment for growth. 


As it turns out, Titusville has plenty of homes to meet current and projected demands for housing (in the near-term, anyway) but most of the homes are outdated and in need of repair. Nearly half of Titusville’s housing stock was built prior to 1940, and while older homes are often of quality construction and contain fine architectural details, they’re usually maintenance-intensive and inaccessible for seniors and those with disabilities.

Housing Stock that would accommodate the following groups of people:

Inadequate Adequate Inadequately Large Needs Improvement
New Home Market (younger individuals and couples)


Starter Home + Downsizing Markets (younger individuals, couples, older folks looking for smaller homes



Move-Up Market (families looking for larger homes)



Senior Market (older folks looking for a range of options from senior communities to nursing homes)



In addition to out-of-date housing stock, the report finds that Titusville has a 16% vacancy rate. This is substantial, and while lower than the Crawford County submarket average, 46.9% of Titusville’s vacant properties are classified as “Other”- a category likely to include properties that are abandoned, condemned, dilapidated, or off the market. This is a proportionally larger share of homes vacant from “other” reasons when compared against the submarket average.

This observation may indicate serious problems within Titusville housing stock, in that nearly half of all vacancies are unintentional. It’s important to understand the characteristics of properties represented in that 46.9% so they can be rehabilitated and / or reintroduced to the market, or deconstructed or demolished. Regardless of the specific action, dealing with this inventory will impact Titusville’s housing market.

This significant concentration of older homes and vacant properties is currently a challenge for Titusville, but with the right plan in place, it could become an opportunity to:

  • Maintain population by keeping homeowners in their homes
  • Attract new homeowners and renters to Titusville
  • Disrupt the blight cycle by incentivizing property maintenance and reinvestment
  • Stabilize the character of existing neighborhoods

Establish a Revolving Loan Fund to Support Home Rehabilitation Projects

Homes fall into disrepair for many different reasons – disinvestment is a complex issue. But while it’s difficult to proactively address some causes (like natural disasters or economic busts), programs and resources can be developed to proactively mitigate other hurdles, such as the cost to repair or update or the decline of surrounding neighborhoods.

The inclusion of home rehabilitation programs in Titusville’s “redevelopment toolbox” can encourage individual and collective reinvestment in residential properties to:

  • Increase housing value;
  • Increase potential for aging-in-place housing,
  • Improve neighborhood image; and
  • Raise the standard for housing quality, hopefully to be emulated by other residents.

Access to affordable capital is a critical kickstarter for community reinvestment initiatives. While many low-income households are often eligible for forgivable low-interest loans or grants, a model that is not income-limited and not restricted to owner-occupants would serve as a catalyst for broader reach and incentivization.

Because restrictions associated with common federal funding sources often compromise these accessibility goals, it is recommended that Titusville pursue the development of a locally capitalized fund to afford greater flexibility in lending.

What is a revolving loan fund?

A Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) is a replenishing source of capital or funding from which loans are made. While never intended to replace more traditional lending sources like community banks, it can serve as an invaluable resource for outcome-related development projects like affordable housing. RLFs are intended to be self-sustaining, evergreen sources of capital for communities, meaning they are maintained by the repayment of principal and grow through interest payments. Generally, there’s a lot of flexibility afforded to entities managing these funds, so the RLF can be tailored to meet Titusville’s specific needs. While there’s some heavy lifting that goes into creating a Revolving Loan Fund, it’s a valuable tool in the economic development toolbox, so, supporting guides and technical assistance resources are widely available.

Further Incentivize Historic Preservation

While often overlooked as a component for economic growth, architecturally refined, historically significant structures are critical to the cultural fabric of place and can support revitalization efforts. Apart from the more direct impacts of increased property values and neighborhood beautification, investment in historic preservation supports the heritage tourism industry and the redevelopment of downtown Main Street districts. 

Titusville already demonstrates an appreciation for its historic structures, with a ~170 acre National Historic District at the City center. As of 2017, roughly 406 of the historic district’s structures are registered as “contributing” to Titusville’s historical significance. These designated structures represent economic opportunity through redevelopment initiatives that would attract valuable capital to the City’s historic core. The City has developed the Titusville Historic Design Guide to support and encourage the preservation of these historic buildings.

Not sure if your house is designated as a historic structure?

Want to find out if it qualifies for designation? Check with the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Office!

Find out

In an effort to maintain the historic inventory already in good repair and support the restoration and preservation of properties in decline, additional programs are recommended to incentivize the preservation of historic housing stock. Grant funding and tax credits available through Pennsylvania’s State Historic Preservation Office are a valuable resource, but locally-based incentives can sweeten the deal. Titusville’s ability to pursue certain preservation incentives may be limited by state law, but there are creative solutions being used across the country to save historic places. Examples of innovative tax-based incentives include:

  • Authorize property tax exemptions for up to 7 years for commercial and/or residential structures in the historic district
  • Freeze property taxes for income-producing historic properties
  • Allow 50% of the value of a rehabilitated property to be excluded from tax assessments for up to 20 years
  • Allow tax assessments on rehabilitated historic properties to exclude the increased values attributable to rehabilitation for up to 10 years

Another creative way to incentivize the preservation of valuable historic structures is to allow waivers of certain building codes provisions (provided that the public’s safety is not endangered). Today’s building codes were written with new construction in mind and are often inappropriate for historic structures.

Secure Titusville’s Designation as a Certified Local Government

As discussed, the commitment to historic preservation can unlock project related funding opportunities that impact the community as a whole. When local leadership demonstrates a commitment to preservation, as Titusville has, they can broaden their access to resources by becoming a Certified Local Government (CLG). The Certified Local Government Program is managed jointly by the National Park Service and State Historic Preservation Offices. Pennsylvania’s SHPO can assist Titusville in applying for and achieving Certified Local Government status. After enrollment in the program and the confirmation of CLG status, exclusive funding becomes available and the SHPO will provide enhanced technical assistance to the local government.

So, how does Titusville take advantage of this opportunity? Reach out to your Community Preservation Coordinator to get started.

Get in touch with Bill!

Bill is your Community Preservation Coordinator who can help you become a Certified Local Government.

Bill Callahan 

Western Region

(412) 565-3575

Email Bill

Homeowner Repair Examples

The West Orange Housing Rehabilitation Program (WOHRP) is funded through developer fees and offers low and moderate-income homeowners loans of up to $35,000 at zero percent interest to assist in home repairs and basic improvements. Coverage includes necessary repair or replacement of roofs, heating and electrical systems, doors and windows, kitchen and bathroom updates, etc. These loans are not repaid to the Township until the homeowner sells the home and there are no monthly payments. The loan is forgiven for homeowners who stay in their home for 12 years.

Learn more

The Home Improvement & Preservation Program (HIPP) offers low-cost, forgivable loans to the homeowner, not to exceed the maximum allowable funding level of $50,000. offers qualified homeowners two different ways to improve their homes (Rehab Program + Reconstruction Program) through a forgivable loan or low-interest loan based on the program the homeowner selects. HIPP is designed to finance home improvements and address health, safety, accessibility modification, reconstruction and structural/deferred maintenance deficiencies.

Learn more

The City of Greensboro makes rehabilitation loans, both deferred and repayable, available at zero percent and three percent interest for the actual cost of rehabilitation. However, the cost of repairs cannot exceed $60,000. Homeowners can take up to 20 years to repay the loan.

Learn more

Greensboro’s Rental Housing Improvement Program supports the rehabilitation of affordable rental units through subordinated loans, covering a portion of costs to improve eligible rental housing.

Learn more

Develop a Vacant Property Inventory

You cannot solve what you don’t understand, and this is the very specific challenge of the “Other” vacancy category represented in Titusville’s housing data. In Census-speak, “other” typically translates to abandoned, condemned, dilapidated. Of the 401 vacant housing units in Titusville, roughly 188 are”other” and appear to be unintentionally vacant. Understanding these 188 properties will help formalize strategies and unlock access to resources for corrective action.

Neglected properties send a message about community pride, value of place, and commitment to the future. Boarded up windows and falling-in roofs are signs of indifference and disinvestment and they will halt the growth of neighborhoods. Not only are they a drain on property values, they potentially invite vandalism and criminal behavior, incurring unintended costs for the community. A vacant property inventory is a tool that Titusville can develop and utilize to identify, catalog, and prioritize challenging sites throughout the city. A prioritized inventory can be aligned with a strategic redevelopment plan which can be used to inform policy, attract capital resources, and begin the process of effective neighborhood stabilization.

Vacant property inventories can be broad in scope, capturing all instances of vacancy from lots, to commercial buildings, to residential neighborhoods, OR more specific in markets, such as vacant housing units. There is also some flexibility in the definition of “vacant” and this should be established before the inventory criteria is designed. The statistic of 188 unintentionally vacant structures in Titusville is specific to housing and was informed by the US Census Bureau, so the working definition of “vacancy” for these 188 properties is “year-round units which were vacant [at the time of census] for reason other than those [associated with rent or sale]”.

Inventorying vacant properties can be the sole responsibility of the municipality, or, as demonstrated in some communities, a collaborative project led by local leadership but fueled by community members. The creation of the inventory is time-limited, so it’s not a heavy lift for volunteers and can be an engaging way to spur community pride and civic engagement. If the partnership approach is of interest, there are tools available to help the City of Titusville build and train a volunteer team to make short work of the inventory. The cost of creating the inventory is variable based on the degree to which volunteers are utilized, but the City should expect some staff time to collect and analyze vacant property data. After the inventory is in place, there will be implementation-related costs, such as inventory management and judicial costs associated with identifying responsible parties and enforcing ordinances.

more information on considerations when building your inventory

Check it out

While the vacant property inventory can be developed without supporting ordinances, having policies designed to disincentivize neglect will generate results. Thoughtful, proactive ordinances can give the City the authority and tools to require landlords, property and landowners to pay a fee to register rental, vacant, foreclosed or abandoned properties. These ordinances also establish mechanisms for local governments to require minimal maintenance and safety standards for these properties. The recent introduction of the Titusville Rental Licensing Program is a proactive approach to blight prevention and could set precedent for an effective vacant property registry and supporting policy development.

Support the Creation of a Titusville or Crawford County Land Bank

Vacancy and blight can derail the best of intentions for neighborhood revitalization. Even if negligent owners were proactive about selling, it would be hard to convince everyday folks to take on the challenge of turning the property around. Enter the practice of land banking, which is technically the aggregation of land for development. But in the spirit and intention of community revitalization, land banks are often focused on acquiring distressed properties in our communities to keep disingenuous, speculative property owners from buying them. When these properties fall into the wrong hands, they can continue to languish and deteriorate, impeding neighborhood growth. Land banks can be governmental or non-profit entities, or subsidiary programs within existing entities, such as redevelopment authorities or housing authorities. They can be established by local ordinance and are already operating throughout Pennsylvania. For nearby examples, check out programs in the City of Erie and in Venango County.

Nearby Examples

The Erie Land Bank is an independent agency formed by Erie City Council in 2016 under authorization of the Pennsylvania legislature. Its goal is to facilitate the return of vacant, blighted, abandoned, and tax-delinquent properties to productive use. The Erie Land Bank works with a variety of partners to mitigate instances of blight and tax delinquency in order to stabilize and improve property values within the City of Erie’s residential neighborhoods.

Learn more

The Venango County Land Bank was created in 2014 when the Venango County Commissioners passed Ordinance no. 2014-03 under the provisions of Act 153 of 2012, 68 Pa.C.S. Section 2101 et seq. The purpose of the Land Bank is to deter the spread of blight and facilitate the return of vacant, blighted, abandoned and tax-delinquent properties to productive use, thereby combating community deterioration, creating economic growth and stabilizing the housing market. With the assistance from the County, municipalities, grants and volunteer agencies, the Land Bank will acquire, hold and transfer real property throughout Venango County to support targeted neighborhoods and to stimulate residential, commercial and industrial development.

Learn more

Blight Management Remediation Examples

In 2012, Ohio’s Attorney General created a residential demolition program to address vacant, abandoned, and blighted properties across the state. Counties and municipalities utilized the program to demolish more than 14,000 properties in two years.

Learn more

Michigan uses a statewide lens to exercise the power of land banking. Since 2010, the State Land Bank has been working to create a positive economic impact on Michigan communities by recycling land to productive use. So far, they’ve demolished 3,362 blighted properties, returned 2,480 properties to productive use, and managed 2,660 properties.

Learn more


The Community Development Block Grant program provides federal funding to eligible communities in support of affordable housing and economic development initiatives. The City of Titusville does receive an annual allocation of CDBG funding, and while this resource is utilized to support varied initiatives throughout the city, it could be utilized as seed funding or leverage for the development of a Revolving Loan Fund.

Alternatively, limited funds could be available to developers to purchase a blighted house for renovation and conversion to a single family home. The developer would have to provide pictures and other substantive proof that the property is considered detrimental to public health and safety, including the potential review / certification by City Code Enforcement. Funds could be utilized for the purchase of the property and would be limited. Approximately one to two grants of this nature could be utilized each year, with anticipated maximum total annual budget of $10,000 – $20,000, due to HUD restrictions of expenditures on projects not directly benefiting low-income persons. This could be a city-wide program without income restrictions.

To learn more about the development of Revolving Loan Funds (RLF), click here.

To learn more about how CDBG funds can be used to support RLFs, click here.

The Keystone Communities (KC) program is designed to encourage the creation of partnerships between the public and private sectors that jointly support local initiatives such as the growth and stability of neighborhoods and communities; social and economic diversity; and a strong and secure quality of life. The program allows communities to tailor the assistance to meet the needs of its specific revitalization effort.

For more information, click here.

The USDA’s Section 504 Home Repair program, provides loans to very-low-income homeowners to repair, improve or modernize their homes or grants to elderly very-low-income homeowners to remove health and safety hazards.

Due Date: Accepted year round, contact local USDA Home Loan office

Amount: Max Grant: $7,500; Max Loan: $20,000

For more information, click here.

The HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) provides formula grants to States and localities that communities use – often in partnership with local nonprofit groups – to fund a wide range of activities including building, buying, and/or rehabilitating affordable housing for rent or homeownership or providing direct rental assistance to low-income people. HOME is the largest Federal block grant to state and local governments designed exclusively to create affordable housing for low-income households.

Due Date: Contact local HUD office

Amount: Local jurisdictions are eligible for $500,000

For more information, click here.

The Neighborhood Stabilization Program was established to provide emergency assistance to stabilize communities with high rates of abandoned and foreclosed homes, and to assist households whose annual incomes are up to 120 percent of the area median income (AMI).

For more information, click here.

Grants from the Mitchell Fund are awarded for planning activities and education efforts focused on the preservation of historic interiors. Grants may be made for activities and projects such as:

  • Obtaining professional expertise in areas such as architecture, planning, paint analysis, archeology, or graphic design
  • Hiring a preservation architect to create an interior restoration plan
  • Hiring a consultant to develop a conservation plan for an interior’s textiles
  • Producing a historic furnishings plan
  • Sponsoring a workshop on the preservation of historic interiors
  • Restoration, rehabilitation, stabilization, and preservation of designated historic interiors, including bricks-and-mortar interior construction

Due Date: March 1, 2021

Amount: $2,500 – $15,000

For more information, click here.

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) administers multiple funding programs. Grant programs are available to nonprofit organizations and local governments. Tax credits are available to owners of certified historic buildings in income producing use. There are no grant or tax credit programs available to private homeowners. This section provides information about each program and type of grant and tax credit.

For more information, click here.

Action Steps: Revolving
Loan Fund


Titusville Area Housing Collaborative and Titusville Housing Authority with support from the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County and the Commonwealth Financing Authority


  • Create an RLF Committee of local experts
  • Identify and confirm a Fiscal Agent
  • Leverage Committee to help develop fund dynamics and lending parameters
  • Source and secure resources to capitalize the RLF
  • Actively promote the RLF to networks of local and external developers, brokers, bankers, public officials and department staff, and other key stakeholders

Click here more information on developing a Housing RLF.

Action Steps: Vacant Property Inventory


City of Titusville and Titusville Renaissance


  • Contact Crawford County Planning Director to identify their vacant property criteria, confirm what specific information they need about Titusville’s vacant property.
  • Confirm funding support from the County for costs associated with the mapping tool and volunteer training, if needed. The recommended program for building the Titusville inventory is MapMe, an online interactive map building tool that is easy to use and captures data in real time. The tool is $99/mo – cost will vary based on length of inventorying process. You should be able to estimate time commitment based on the number of properties, number of staff / volunteers committed to information gathering, and the schedule created for time spent in the field.


City of Titusville and Titusville Renaissance


Use this guide from West Virginia University BAD Buildings as a template.


City of Titusville and Titusville Renaissance


  • Create monthly account at MapMe and schedule training with customer support. MapMe customer support will provide guidance throughout the whole process.
  • Upload the vacant property data
  • Create a form based on the survey questions – be sure to include condition categories (good, fair, poor, should be demolished)


City of Titusville and Titusville Renaissance


  • Conduct a training. If using volunteer teams to conduct the survey, prepare for a more formal training
  • Introduce the program and criteria for conducting a visual assessment
  • Teach them to use the MapMe Google Form
  • Assign Territories


City of Titusville and Titusville Renaissance


  • Send inventory teams in to the field to collect data
  • When all mapped properties have completed assessments, generate final map
  • Download / export data and share with Crawford County GIS