More than $11 million in grants will benefit such efforts as Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh, Rising Tide Partners and NeighborWorks.

Originally published: 12/15/2022
Pittsburgh Magazine

As inflation keeps low- and middle-class residents struggling to afford basic necessities and the area’s homeless population continues to climb, Pittsburgh-based programs are receiving a much-needed boost to initiatives that preserve and protect affordable housing in Allegheny County.

The Henry L. Hillman Foundation announced this week it will contribute $11.25 million in grants to 10 organizations, including low-interest loan programs to finance a new mission-driven housing development, homebuyer education classes to support qualified low- to moderate-income Black or Hispanic homebuyers and efforts to repair or preserve affordable housing units in neighborhoods facing competition from market-driven development, according to a press release from the foundation.

“Availability of affordable housing is one of the largest and most complex challenges facing Pittsburgh and the region,” said David K. Roger, president of the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, in the release. “In Allegheny County, sale prices for homes over the past five years have exceeded inflation and rents have increased by 20% in Pittsburgh over the past year.”

A 2016 study by the City of Pittsburgh’s Affordable Housing Task Force cited a shortage of 17,000 units for those earning up to 50% of the city’s median income. According to a report from Redfin in October 2022, Pittsburgh had the second fastest-rising asking rents nationally with city and metro rent prices increasing 20% between September 2021 and September 2022.

The affordable housing grants were chosen to advance three strategies central to the foundation’s Healthy Neighborhoods investment priority: protection of renters and low-income homeowners; preservation of existing affordable housing, both via rental and enhanced opportunities for homeownership; and support for people to remain stable and healthy in quality affordable housing in high-opportunity neighborhoods.

Programs benefiting from the grant funds include:

  • Bridgeway Capital to create or preserve 475 units in Hazelwood, Squirrel Hill, East Liberty and Central Northside.
  • Rising Tide Partners to purchase naturally occurring affordable housing and renovations to be used as affordable rentals or to move renters to homeownership.
  • NeighborWorks for a personalized homebuyer education program to support qualified low- to moderate-income Black or Hispanic home buyers in purchasing available for-sale properties via HUD-certified one-on-one counseling.
  • Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh for mortgage and rental assistance and counseling services, and a comprehensive housing strategy focused on low-to-moderate-income Black families.
  • City of Bridges Community Land Trust for the implementation of a new plan to serve multiple neighborhoods in the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County through the preservation of existing affordable housing and development of new units.
  • LEVEL: Equity Building for housing preservation, rehabilitation, and affordable homeownership, as well as technical assistance and guidance to individuals currently on LEVEL’s waiting list for rehabilitated, affordable homeownership in McKees Rocks.
  • Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh to provide $3 million worth of home repairs to at least 100 homeowners in 2023 and unlock additional public funding for a new Whole Home Repair program through additional case management and technical assistance.
  • Schenley Heights Collaborative for the rehabilitation of four vacant, blighted houses in the Upper Hill District, in partnership with the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Pittsburgh Housing Development Corp.

The foundation is also poised to announce two additional affordable housing grants through low-interest loan programs and a pilot mortgage project at a later date.

In the past five years, three Hillman-associated foundations have invested an additional $23 million into affordable housing initiatives and homelessness prevention, including $2 million for the Second Avenue Commons shelter that opened Downtown in November.