Resources

The City is asking those housing providers who have the capacity to provide short-term or transitional homes for families and or individuals who are either homeless or at-risk of being homeless to submit a Letter of Interest. Private property owners and housing providers who own or are purchasing vacant housing units that require renovation are perfect candidates.  In return, the City is providing both rental subsidies and housing rehab grants for interior and/or exterior improvements as incentive.

 

Download the program’s Letter of Interest here

The Bethlehem Small Business Loan Fund provides financing to eligible business in order to create jobs for people who earn up to 80% of Bethlehem’s median income as determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. These loans are intended to be utilized as gap-financing in conjunction with other traditional funding options. Funds range from $25,000-100,000 and can be used for acquisition of property, construction, substantial renovations, and equipment purchases. Borrowers must create one full-time equivalent position for each $35,000 borrowed within one year of the loan, and submit quarterly financial statements and employment statistics.  The Small Business Loan is administered by the Rising Tide Community Loan Fund at CACLV. 

Commercial Lease Subsidy Program

Community Action Development Corporation of Bethlehem (CADCB) is introducing a pilot program, the CADCB Commercial Lease Subsidy Program. The goal of the program is to strengthen our neighborhoods by minimizing or lowering vacancies in our business corridors and provide economic opportunities in south Bethlehem and Northside 2027 neighborhood. This program will provide businesses the support they need to get off the ground, helping to build more vibrant downtown areas that attract more businesses and the talent we need to build a competitive economy, thus creating a stronger and more resilient community.

 

Download the program’s Application Packet here.

See the program's flyer here.

The Exterior Building Improvement Loan Fund is designed to properly correct building exterior deficiencies, code violations, and to incorporate overall improvements to the building stock in our business districts. While the façade is the primary focus, improvements to the roof, sidewalks and other visible areas of the building are of importance to the integrity of the overall building and to the public safety. The Exterior Improvement Loan Program’s strength is in its ability to address the requirements of clean, safe, affordable building ownership while preserving the architectural significance of the building. Grants up to $20,000 are available for the installation of ADA compliant fixtures or the removal of barriers to ADA compliance. An additional $60,000 is available at prime minus .5% over 5 to 7 years for other improvements.
 

For more information call Shawn Fuller at (610) 997-1441 or sfuller@bethlehem-pa.gov

The Commercial Façade Program is a matching grant program designed to provide an incentive to commercial building owners to restore or rehabilitate the primary elevation of a building. Funds may also be used to repair or replace exterior building elements in order to preserve, protect and stabilize a building. In addition, businesses that occupy first-floor space may redesign their storefront to reflect historic architectural precedent, or current architectural design or business trends, as deemed appropriate for the building, block face and streetscape. Up to $5,000 in grant funding is available for these improvements, with a dollar-for-dollar match by the business or property owner. 

Façade Improvements

The City of Bethlehem is rolling a Façade Improvement program as part of its existing Housing Rehabilitation Program. The Façade Improvement Program targets residential properties in the historic districts in the City.  Funds may be used for a variety of restoration/ preservation projects. Examples of projects may include installing historically appropriate doors and windows, front porch railings and posts, painting, and masonry repointing, to name a few. This grant program will fund up to $20,000 for façade improvement projects. There is no match required by the property owner. Owner-occupied properties are eligible to apply with household incomes at or below 200% the area median income (AMI). Priority will be given to households that are 80% AMI or below. For more information call the City’s Housing Rehabilitation staff at (610) 865-7096. 

Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance

LERTA is a tax abatement program that was created in 1977 to incentivize property investment and redevelopment of difficult and undesirable properties- such as brownfield sites. LERTA creates a graduated increase in tax payments on new construction and property rehabilitation for owners of commercial, industrial, residential, and business properties located within designated zones in the City.  LERTA does require that property owners pay full land taxes, while taxes on improvements increase to the fully owed amount at an agreed upon rate over 10 years.  The LERTA abatement applies to the tax increment from any substantial renovation or new construction, but does not make a property tax-free. Applications for LERTA must be submitted within 60 days of a building permit. The city has two LERTA areas– the Southside LERTA and the Northside LERTA, each having their own tax abatement provisions. 

LERTA Overview
LERTA Application
LERTA Ordinance

The Bethlehem Homebuyer Assistance Program (BHAP) subsidizes down payment and closing costs for first-time homebuyers (defined as someone who has not owned a home in the past three years) looking to purchase a home in the City of Bethlehem. Lending institutions will provide up to 90% of the financing and the BHAP program will provide the remainder, up to 10%, plus closing costs.  In addition, the applicant must provide $1,275 toward equity and fees to participate in the program. The BHAP loan is structured as a deferred payment loan (DPL) with a 0% interest rate and gradual forgiveness over a 10-year period. The homebuyer must reside in the property for the 10-year term of the financing or return the loan proceeds on a prorated basis. 

The City of Bethlehem partners with New Bethany Ministries to provide short term rental assistance to residents through the Eviction Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program.  Turn to New Bethany’s rental assistance program, for currently housed (rent arrears) or homeless households (security deposit and housing locator help). Not long after Pennsylvania’s stay-at-home order was implemented, Bethlehem and Lehigh Valley residents – either newly unemployed or experiencing a reduction in pay – began contacting New Bethany Ministries. Heeding the call, New Bethany joined a multi-partner network of organizations and government offices to provide rental and other housing assistance services.

Housing Rehabilitation

The City of Bethlehem Housing Rehabilitation Program provides assistance to homeowners within the City of Bethlehem for improving their residence, complying with city code requirements, making weatherization improvements and lead paint remediation. The improved property must be located within the city and must be the property owner’s primary residence. Program eligibility is based on income of all persons living in the home.   For more information call the City’s Housing Rehabilitation staff at (610) 865-7096.