Originally published: 12/15/2022
Pittsburgh Business Times
The Henry L. Hillman Foundation announced it is distributing a total of $11.23 million to a host of organizations and initiatives focused on western Pennsylvania’s increasingly challenging affordable housing demands.
The institution indicated its first goal is “to preserve and protect” affordable housing in Allegheny County. According to an announcement, the grants will go to a host of 10 different organizations working on varying affordable housing needs. The funding is expected to be dedicated to providing aid for low-interest loan programs, financing new mission-driven housing development, providing homebuyer education classes for low- to moderate-income Black and Hispanic homebuyers, as well as supporting efforts to repair and preserve affordable housing units.
David K. Roger, president of the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, said of the ample and distributed funding announcement:
“Availability of affordable housing is one of the largest and most complex challenges facing Pittsburgh and the region. 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. These funding commitments have been targeted to contribute to the toolkit that empowers the region to address those challenges. Fostering healthy neighborhoods is a strategic priority of the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, and one of the most direct ways to do so is through access to safe, stable and affordable housing.”
Hillman’s announcement cited various research to work to explain the extent of the challenge. That includes a 2016 study by the City of Pittsburgh’s Affordable Housing Task Force indicating a shortage 17,000 units for residents at up to 50 percent of the city’s median income. More recent market reports of the rental market noted by Hillman note that Pittsburgh had the second fastest-rising asking rents nationally, skyrocketing 20% between September 2021 and September 2022.
Hillman’s grantees for the funding are:
- Bridgeway Capital – for a $1.5 million affordable housing loan fund, a followup to a $500,000 grant in 2021.
- Rising Tide Partners – for $2 million for the organization to buy naturally occurring affordable housing and to fund renovations with the expectation the property can be used as rentals or for homeownership.
- NeighborWorks – $150,000 to support qualified low- to moderate-income Black or Hispanic homebuyers in purchasing available for-sale properties with HUD-certified counseling
- Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh – $250,000 to help support what Hillman called a “comprehensive housing strategy focused on low-to- moderate-income Black families that includes a fund to prevent displacement for both homeowners and renters and a HUD-certified homebuyer counseling program.”
- City of Bridges Community Land Trust – $1.25 million to support a new strategic plan to serve multiple neighborhoods in the City of Pittsburgh with its affordable housing projects.
- LEVEL: Equity Building – $250,000 for technical assistance for prospective homeowners of LEVEL’s waiting list for rehabilitated, affordable homeownership in McKees Rocks.
- Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh – $400,000 to increase capacity to help the organization reach a total of $3 million to fund home repairs to at least 100 homeowners next year and providing matching funds to attract public money for the new Whole Home Repair program.
- Schenley Heights Collaborative – $200,000 in capital support for four home rehabs in the Upper Hill in partnership with the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Pittsburgh Housing Development Corporation.
According to the announcement, two additional grants will go to preserve existing affordable housing through low-interest loan programs as well as to launch a pilot mortgage project to increase homeownership rates in low-income neighborhoods.
The new grant funding announcement follows a combined total of $23 million three foundations associated with the Hillman family — the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, Hillman Foundation and Mary Hillman Jennings Foundation — have made to affordable housing initiatives in the last five years.