History of Improved Dwellings for Altoona, Inc.

Improved Dwellings for Altoona, Inc., (IDA) was organized in 1968 in response to the needs in the City of Altoona and the surrounding area for safe, decent and affordable housing.  The condition of the housing stock in the community had been allowed to deteriorate substantially, largely due to the economic distress the community was experiencing with the ongoing and marked decline of the area's major employer, the Pennsylvania Railroad.

These conditions prompted a group of clergy and lay persons from 8 religious and ethnic groups, including the minority community, to bond together to work at addressing the community's housing needs.  They organized a bus trip to distressed Altoona neighborhoods and succeeded in galvanizing community support for improving housing conditions and in raising $42,000 from their respective church communities and, using these seed funds, organized IDA. 

The IDA organization has succeeded over the past 53 years in rehabilitating or constructing over 1,000 dwelling units with an investment of federal, state and local funds of over $50,000,000.  The support of the local officials and community members has played an integral part in the successes and ongoing efforts of IDA to improve the communities' housing stock and to provide safe, decent and affordable housing for low and moderate income persons.

IDA's record demonstrates that it has remained true to its chartered purpose of providing adequate housing and related services and facilities to persons and families of low and moderate income, including the elderly, persons with disabilities, those displaced by government action and urban renewal, and residents needing to be relocated from slum or blighted housing.

Through the years, IDA has developed and/or managed 22 separate developments consisting of over 1,000 units of rental housing for low and moderate-income persons and families with developments located in four adjoining counties.  These developments are located as follows: one in Centre County, two in Cambria County, one in Clearfield County, and thirteen in Blair County, eight of which are located in whole or in part within the boundaries of the City of Altoona.

IDA has always believed in the importance of supporting the communities where IDA’s subsidized rental housing developments are located and that support for the local community has included paying real estate taxes.  In this year alone, the properties managed by IDA will pay a combined total in excess of $482,000 of real estate taxes to the various municipalities, school districts and counties in which the 22 developments are located.

IDA and its staff have earned a reputation for excellence in the development and management of its housing developments.  This reputation has been recognized through resolutions by the City of Altoona, the County of Blair, and by both chambers of the legislature of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  IDA has also been recognized by HUD for its efforts in the area of Fair Housing and for its lengthy record of accomplishment. 

IDA had also carried out an ongoing program of purchasing rundown properties, extensively rehabilitating the properties and then selling them to low and moderate income homebuyers.  By the end of the program, over 90 properties have been renovated and sold. In 1995, IDA created the IDA Community Development Corporation, (IDA-CDC), which has been recognized as a CHDO by the City of Altoona, to carry out homeownership programs and rental housing development.  The IDA-CDC is currently undertaking a program using HOME program funds to acquire and rehabilitate additional properties in Altoona for sale to low and moderate income families. The IDA-CDC also serves as the conduit for obtaining grants through the PennHOMES program through the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA), HOME & CDBG Program funds from the City of Altoona, and Affordable Housing Preservation Funds throught the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, for extensive preservation rehabilitation projects at many of our developments.

In this variety of ways, IDA has acknowledged its non-housing responsibilities to its tenants, formed alliances with other social service providers, taken up the reins of leadership as occasions required, and earned a reputation as a reliable, can-do organization.


Improved Dwellings for Altoona, Inc., P.O. Box 592, 1600 8th Avenue, Altoona, PA  16603-0592
Equal Housing Opportunity

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