The Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development (The Institute) produces community based research and mobilizes the resources of regional institutions of higher education to engage in regional research and strategy development. Wilkes University, as the founder and managing partner in The Institute, collaborates closely with Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, Keystone College, King’s College, Lackawanna College, Luzerne County Community College, Marywood University, Misericordia University, Pennsylvania State University/Wilkes-Barre, Penn State Worthington Scranton, the University of Scranton and The Wright Center.

The overall goal of The Institute’s housing  website is to take a proactive approach of educating northeastern Pennsylvania residents on pertinent housing topics, to avoid a market collapse.

This educational website will provide resources that are user friendly to consumers in the region.  The website will inform residents about all facets of the housing industry in order that they make the most informed decision as possible—whether it’s buying, selling, renting, building, or even refinancing their home.  This knowledge will help consumers avoid the pitfalls of predatory lending, and encourage them to seek professional guidance when looking to buy or sell a home.


To improve the quality of life and standard of living for the residents of northeastern Pennsylvania through examination of housing stock and housing affordability.


  • The task force is comprised of diverse groups of professionals to convene and participate in creating policy solutions based on evidence and best practices that have the potential to impact legislation and beyond.
  • The task force examines a variety of issues related to housing planning and zoning, affordability, housing stock, and homelessness. Key data and trends concerning these factors as well as case studies and best practices are considered.
  • The task force will maintains a bilingual education information best website to assist new and existing homebuyers.
  • The task force produces newsletters and coordinates events related to housing.

Task Force Members

  • Charlie Kasko, Vice President Signature Building Systems – Chair
  • Joe Boylan, Argent Eagle Development Company
  • Jesse Ergott, Executive Director, Neighborhood Housing
  • Steven Farrell, Owner, Classic Properties
  • Patrick Fricchione, President & CEO, Simplex Homes
  • Rory Giovanucci, Regional Housing Coordinator, Self Determination Housing Project
  • Patricia Moroz, US, Housing & Urban Development
  • Joe Terrana, Terrana Law PC
  • Ellen Watkins

2017 – Measuring the Economic Impact of Blight in Lackawanna & Luzerne Counties
2016 – Homebuyer Handbook
2015 – A Demand Analysis of Accessible and Affordable Housing in Northeastern PA
2013 – 2014: The task force created a community toolkit on http://www.nepahousing.org site for small communities to learn about different aspects of housing planning. Each topic contains a definition, description, frequently used terms, a case study, resource section, and sample regulation.
2008 – 2012: The task force developed a housing education website in English and Spanish. NEPA Housing.

The Institute also provides data, analysis, strategy, and implementation recommendations to provide solutions to clients. The Institute services include:

  • Indicators – Indexes
  • Community Health Assessments
  • Market and Feasibility Analyses
  • Economic Development Strategies
  • Economic and Tax Impact Studies
  • Data and Data Analysis
  • Industry Studies
  • Housing Studies
  • Workforce Studies
  • Education Studies
  • Economic and Demographic Profiles
  • Policy Analysis
  • Grant & Program Evaluations
  • Research Validation and Peer Review
  • Site Selection Research
  • Arts & Culture Studies
  • Tourism Strategic Plans
  • Comprehensive Plans
  • Survey Design
  • Strategy Development, Planning and Collaborative Processes
  • Asset Maps