Program boosts Chester housing prices

August 3, 2008 7:28:31 AM PDT
Good news for the long-struggling city of Chester. It is bucking the trend and reporting a big rise in housing prices. Harrah's Casino was among the first major companies to bet that Chester, Pennsylvania would be a good investment, and so did the backers of the soon to be built professional soccer complex. But who would have guessed that dilapidated homes, once just a part of the landscape there, would suddenly become a hot commodity?

It seems while housing prices have slumped just about everywhere else, they're up 14.6-percent in Chester.

"Our first reaction was wow that's more than I thought," says David Sciocchetti, Executive Director of the Chester Economic Development Authority.

Despite David's initial surprise, a housing market report posted by a national real estate company confirms what he says he's known all along. "I think it is a good investment and hopefully people will see that."

Chester will get another shot in the arm thanks to a home buying incentive program announced by Widner University and a local hospital.

Carlo Emmens works in the burn unit for the Crozer Keystone Healthcare System where he plans to apply for a new program called walk to work. It provides a five thousand dollar settlement loan to employees who buy homes in Chester, and the best news for workers, after living in the home for five years that loan will be forgiven.

Emmens tells us, "This is a great opportunity. Where else can you go and get the money for somebody to help you get a down payment on something that you want?"

Kathy Scullin from Crozer Keystone Health System says, "We just thought it was really important to assist in the economic revitalization of neighborhoods surrounding our hospital and the Widner campus."

You could call it a lesson in urban renewal at Widner University, where, like the hospital, six $5,000 loans will be granted to employees each year.

Dan Hanson of Widner University explains, "Employees that take part in the program will not only be living in the city of Chester, they'll also be working in the city of Chester, they'll have a greater stake in the future if the city of Chester."

Click here to get the latest Philadelphia news and headlines from across the Delaware and Lehigh valleys.