I want to remind everyone that my Brookline office has moved to a new location. My Brookline office is now located at 1039 Brookline Boulevard, Suite 2. The hours will remain 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday and the phone number remains 412-344-2551.
My Kennedy Township office remains at Kenmawr Plaza, located at 524 Pine Hollow Road and is open Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The Kennedy office can be reached at 412-331-1208.
My Beechview office will open from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month.
All Senate offices will be closed on Tuesday, Dec. 25 in observance of Christmas. My offices will re-open as scheduled on Wednesday, Dec. 26. I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!
Last week I participated in a news conference with Governor Tom Wolf, Mayor Bill Peduto, State Representative Dan Frankel, City Councilpersons Corey O’Connor and Erika Strassburger and dozens of community advocates, calling for commonsense gun reforms at the local and state levels and highlighting the need to empower Pittsburgh city officials to enact those measures.
Last session I introduced two reasonable gun reform measures and will be reintroducing them in the new legislative session. One of my bills would allow for Extreme Risk Protection Orders that empower family members to petition a court to temporarily take guns away from a loved who is in the throes of a psychiatric crisis - someone who has explicitly threatened violence against themselves or others. My other legislation would ban certain assault rifles that have too many times become the “weapons of choice” for mass shooters. The bill would also limit the magazine capacity for semi-automatic weapons. I should emphasize that I am talking about the same types of weapons that our own State Police tried to ban decades ago.
The activism from our Pittsburgh community, like that of so many others that have been affected by gun violence throughout our nation, is both inspiring and encouraging and can only help to amplify America’s growing outrage and demand for gun reform. The common sense reforms we are advocating are at the heart of what the vast majority of our citizens are so desperately seeking, and I will continue pushing ahead in the weeks and months ahead to ensure our citizens’ voices are being heard.
Funding for Affordable Housing
Last week, $2.2 million in state grant funding was awarded to promote affordable housing in western Pennsylvania. The money will be allocated through several grants. The first grant of $2 million is going to the City of Pittsburgh and Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh to acquire and rehabilitate 35 homes in high-need areas. Another $238,000 grant will go to the purchase and rebuilding of three homes in Washington County.
Funding for these grants comes from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
NSP provides grants to communities to address the housing foreclosure crisis created by subprime and other problematic mortgage lending. This program is authorized under the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program. In addition to promoting affordable housing, the grants also help address blight issues resulting from these abandoned or foreclosed homes.
Abandoned properties and blight are plaguing some neighborhoods in this great city, and I’m proud to have helped secure funding to fight it.
Drug and Alcohol Referral Tool
I want to make everyone aware of a new online tool to help individuals identify drug and alcohol treatment options and supportive services for themselves or a loved one.
A team comprised of staff from the Departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs and Human Services worked together to create the Drug and Alcohol Referral Tool (DART), a tool that centralizes ways to connect a person to drug and alcohol treatment and related support resources. This tool can be found at www.ddap.pa.gov/GetHelp.
The DART tool is a free, anonymous resource. Results are generated based off a person’s answers to survey questions and individuals may skip a question at any point. The tool is not a diagnostic assessment and does not gauge eligibility for any programs, rather the goal is to assist people who are looking for services but are not sure where to begin.
After completing the questionnaire, an individual will be able to email, download, and/or print their results. The tool does not ask any identifying information and does not save answers after the tool is closed.
DART can be a valuable resource for anyone looking for help. If you or anyone you know are seeking treatment, please consider using this online tool.
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) is accepting applications for this season’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The program helps low income families pay their heating bills. You can apply and check the status of your application on the state’s COMPASS website (www.compass.state.pa.us). You can also pick up an application in my district offices or download one yourself from the DHS LIHEAP website. Completed paper applications should be returned to the Allegheny County Assistance Office, located at 5947 Penn Avenue, 4th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA, 15206.
Funding for LIHEAP is provided by the federal government and eligibility is based on the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines. The income limits for this season are as follows:
After your application is received you will receive a written notice explaining your eligibility and the amount of assistance you will receive. Payments are generally sent directly to a utility company or fuel provider and will be credited to your heating account. Crisis grants may also be available if you have an emergency situation and are in jeopardy of losing your heat. For more information, please contact the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program
I want to remind everyone that the deadline to submit an application to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue for the 2017 Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program is quickly approaching. Eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older, widows and widowers age 50 and older, and people with disabilities age 18 and older have until Dec. 31, 2018 to apply. Applications are available at my district offices, online at www.revenue.pa.gov or by calling 1-888-222-9190. As always, my staff would be happy to assist you in preparing your application.
Please keep in mind, half of Social Security income is excluded in determining eligibility. The program is funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery and revenue from slots gaming.
Three Steps to Protect Your Smartphone from Fake Banking Apps
The Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities (DOBS) wants to remind Pennsylvanians to remain vigilant when using their new smartphones found under the tree to conduct financial transactions amid reports that thousands of consumers in other countries may have had personal and financial information stolen through fake smartphone bank apps.
Last year, the internet security firm Avast discovered malware installed in flashlight and solitaire apps that targeted banking apps already installed on people’s smartphones. The malware allowed criminals to steal username and passwords information from legitimate banking apps used by some of the world’s largest financial institutions.
The Department has issued the following recommendations that can help consumers protect their smartphones from fake apps:
1.Shop for apps from official app stores such as Google Play and Apple. Though using these stores cannot guarantee all apps are legitimate, the official app stores have security measures in place to help reduce risk to your smartphone.
2.Verify that the app you want to download is legitimate by contacting your bank or credit union.
3.Keep the operating system and anti-virus software on your smartphone up-to-date.
Anyone can contact the Department of Banking and Securities at 1-800-PA-BANKS or 1-800-600-0007 to ask questions or file complaints about financial transactions, companies, or products.
Did You Know…
Did you know that according to a 2017 Google study, four in 10 smartphone owners use their phones to conduct financial transactions?
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is once again producing First Night Pittsburgh on New Year’s Eve. This year’s celebration marks the 25th anniversary of First Night Pittsburgh and the 16th as a production of the Cultural Trust. As the largest single-day celebration in the region, First Night provides exciting and family-friendly activities to ring in the New Year, offering more than 100 events at indoor and outdoor locations within the 14-block Cultural District.
Culminating with the city’s Countdown to Midnight and raising of the Future of Pittsburgh Ball, the six-hour celebration sprawls downtown’s renowned Cultural District — inside theaters, galleries, and unique spaces and along city streets on outdoor performance stages. Acclaimed national artists and Pittsburgh’s vibrant artist community ring in the new year for revelers with live music, dance, theater, visual arts, comedy, magic, kids’ activities, and a signature parade along with two Zambelli Fireworks displays at 6 pm and midnight.
To view the many activities taking place during First Night and for a full schedule of events, shows and entertainment and information on how to purchase all-access buttons please visit www.firstnightpgh.org.
The Christmas Tree displayed in the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg this year is an 18-foot Douglas Fir from Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton, Carbon County.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana
| Brookline District
1039 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Weekdays – 9 am – 5 pm
543 Main Capitol |
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Weekdays – 8:30 am – 5 pm
524 Pine Hollow Road
Weekdays – 10 am – 4 pm
| Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216