Originally published: May 17, 2023
New Pittsburgh Courier

The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh (ULGP) was founded to help Black communities become economically self-reliant and empowered through education, health, quality of life, civic engagement, and civil rights and racial justice.

One of the most fundamental of all human rights is the right to a safe, secure home, which our Constitution protects under the Fifth Amendment.

As a HUD-certified housing counseling agency, the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh in partnership with numerous organizations in our region, collaborate to offer programs that serve as structural interventions for preventing homelessness and keeping families together.

These programs, like all ULGP outreach efforts, are intended to help people not just survive but thrive.

Under the leadership of Richard Morris, Director of Housing, the ULGP helps people:

Mortgage Foreclosure

ULGP staff work with homeowners who are in — or close to — foreclosure. “We serve as counselors to people who are overwhelmed by the thought of losing their homes,” says Richard. “We advise them about and help them file paperwork for the PA Homeowner’s Assistance fund which is a grant program that helps homeowners pay their delinquent mortgage payments.

Homeownership and Eviction Prevention

Richard and his team hold monthly home ownership workshops for first-time homebuyers and young women. The all-day programs take place on Saturdays and feature leaders from the city’s Fair Housing Partnership, the PA Housing Finance Agency, local banks, realtors, and other experts.

One-on-one counseling is also available as is help with paperwork, which can be daunting for many people. “Richard and his team are always finding creative, respectful ways to help people achieve home ownership,” says Carlos T. Carter, ULGP President & CEO.

One of the most creative and effective is a Financial Health Toolkit which highlights easy-to-use and affordable apps and websites that can help people save money, establish credit, and work within a budget. “We want individuals and families to know about and use everything that’s out there to achieve financial health,” explains Richard.

“Rental assistance for families and individuals who are currently homeless is also available for things like a security deposit or initial rent,” he adds.

To accommodate special housing-related requests that don’t fall neatly into any category, the ULGP oversees a special discrepancy fund.

Even more important than helping people find, obtain, and save and maintain homes, is the spirit in which the work is done. “Richard and his team are very good at treating everyone we serve with dignity and love,” says Carlos. “Richard is sensitive, smart, and honest with people about what needs to happen no matter what financial situation they find themselves in.”

For Richard, the work is part of a greater plan. “I believe God gives each one of us a purpose,” he states. “Mine is to help people with kindness.”

For more information about all the ULGP programs — housing (and hunger services), economic self-reliance, youth leadership development, family support centers, and leadership and advocacy — visit the ULGP website or call 412.227.4802.

Carlos T. Carter is President and CEO of Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh.