Affordable Housing News

The City of Bethlehem in the fall of 2023 completed its year-long comprehensive housing strategy process resulting in Opening Doors: Strategies to Build Housing Stability in Bethlehem. This five-year strategic plan offers the City a blueprint for leveraging its funding to help the most Bethlehem residents access safe and affordable housing. 

More than 3,500 Bethlehem residents and housing stakeholders participated in the Opening Doors planning process via a community survey and across pop-up events, focus groups and small interviews. The City then convened its Comprehensive Housing Strategy Committee comprised of key institutional, private and nonprofit sector partners, which helped the City hone in on the best strategies for its unique real estate market. The study identified an acute need for more rental housing to alleviate the City’s crisis-level 2% vacancy rate and created a toolkit of strategies to boost the production of affordable rentals and prevent homelessness.

Mayor J. William Reynolds and Bethlehem City Council allocated $5 million of the Community Recovery Fund for affordable housing strategy implementation in 2023. Now that the data-driven housing study is complete, the City can strategically invest that money into the programs and incentives that will move the needle for the most Bethlehem citizens. The Housing Strategy Committee is now a standing volunteer-board, which holds public quarterly meetings to track progress of strategy implementation and to allow for regular public input on housing issues.

Second Quarter Opening Doors Community Meeting
The second quarter Opening Doors Steering Committee meeting was held Wednesday, May 15, 2024, at Northampton Community College's Fowler Southside Center. The presentation can be found here. A video of the presentation is here.

opening doors Plans 

Opening Doors: Strategies to Build Housing Stability in Bethlehem
Appendix Bethlehem Market Value Analysis and Displacement Risk Ratio
Opening Doors: Bethlehem Strategic Plan to Address Homelessness

To share the Opening Doors plan with the public the City hosted an open house community meeting on January 24, 2024, at Northampton Community College's Fowler Southside Center. The presentation can be found here. The informational posters can be found here in English. And in Spanish here.
Opening Doors Affordable Housing Presentations to Bethlehem City Council

On October 10, 2023, the City presented Opening Doors: Strategies to Build Housing Stability in Bethlehem to the Community Development Committee. Watch the meeting here. The presentation can be found here

On September 26, 2023, the City presented Opening Doors: Strategic Plan to Address Homelessness to the Community Development Committee.  Watch the meeting here. The  presentation can be found here

The City of Bethlehem, in partnership with The Reinvestment Fund, Atria Planning and Collabo Planning, presented an update on the City's Affordable Housing Strategies at the March 7, 2023, Community Development Committee.  Watch the meeting here. The presentation can be found here.

The City of Bethlehem, in partnership with The Reinvestment Fund, Atria Planning and Collabo Planning, presented an update on the City's Housing Needs Assessment at the February 7, 2023, Community Development Committee. Watch the meeting here. The presentation can be found here.

Bethlehem Homebuyer Assistance Program

Program Information Flyer

The Bethlehem Homebuyer Assistance Program (BHAP) subsidizes down payment and closing costs for eligible homebuyers  looking to purchase a home in the City of Bethlehem. Your total household income must be at or below 80% of the average median income.

Participating Lenders

Within the BHAP program, 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 one-on-one counseling services 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.

Homebuyer Seminars

The Home Ownership Counseling Program (HOCP), coordinated by CACLV, sponsors an 8-hour first-time homebuyer counseling seminar.  These seminars are held seven (7) times annually with three of the seven seminars conducted in Spanish. Each HOCP Seminar includes two (2) sessions scheduled for consecutive weekends. Both sessions must be completed for the HOCP Seminar requirement to be satisfied. 

Click below for flyers about the seminars on these upcoming dates:

  1. June 8th and 15th, 2024 (Spanish)

2023 HOCP Seminars will be posted here as they are scheduled. If you are interested in attending email: housingcounseling@caclv.org

Program Contacts

The BHAP is administered through Community Action Lehigh Valley. For additional information about the BHAP program please contact:

Community Action Lehigh Valley, 484-893-1063carroyo@caclv.org
Fair Housing

Each year the City designates a portion of its annual CDBG entitlement funds toward supporting fair housing education and initiatives to increase decent housing and suitable living environments for low and moderate income residents. The City works with North Penn Legal Services (NPLS) to provide fair housing services to its residents. Legal services, tenant/landlord education, and housing complaints should be directed to NPLS at https://www.nplspa.org/what-we-do/get-help/overview.html

NPLS Resource Library: https://www.nplspa.org/what-we-do/resources/


Free Virtual Event: Building Your Financial House

This FREE class will cover topics including:

  1. Starting a solid budget
  2. Maximizing earnings
  3. Taxes (earnings)
  4. How to map your money
  5. Stashing your cash (saving/investing)
  6. How to make your money work for you

There are three class sessions in this program. Please see the brochure for more information: https://www.bethlehem-pa.gov/CityOfBethlehem/media/DCED-Media-Library/CommunityDevelopment/Financial_House_Flyer-April-2024.pdf

Rental Payment Assistance

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. For more information contact New Bethany Ministries at 610-691-5602, option 2.

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 Application

Program eligibility is based on income of all persons living in the home. More information is available by calling the Office of Housing Rehabilitation at 610-865-7096.


Program Guidelines


Program Contacts

Sheila Rhett, Housing Rehab Coordinator, SRhett@bethlehem-pa.gov


Contractor Qualifications

The City of Bethlehem’s Department of Community and Economic Development is requesting qualifications from construction contractors and sub-contractors to establish a list of prequalified contractors. Specifically, the City is seeking to develop a list of pre-qualified contractors and with experience in construction and rehabilitation of residential housing. Likely projects include housing rehabilitation contracts up to $20,000 in value throughout the City of Bethlehem.  Lead removal is usually a part of this rehabilitation work. Otherwise qualified contractors who do not have lead removal certification will be offered the certification course free of charge.  Contractors must complete this course prior to being awarded work under this program.