Affordable for-sale housing at the front door of the mayoral election

Housing prices nearly quadrupled in Fineview over the decade ending in 2018, and there’s no reason to believe that’s reversed since, according to neighborhood advocate Joanna Deming. The plus side: The increases are a symptom of the North Side neighborhood’s desirability, said Deming, executive director of both the Fineview Citizens Council and the Perry Hilltop Citizens Council. The minus: “So we’re seeing those rents go up! …We want to make sure we protect our residents first.”

Deming spoke inside a freshly renovated, affordable rental house on Fineview’s Lanark Street, where the citizens council’s plans call for some 20 new or remodeled houses, all priced for modest incomes, and mostly for sale, rather than for rent. She is cobbling together funding packages including money from the state, the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Allegheny County and private sources.

Skyline Terrace, a mixed-income housing complex, developed by the Housing Authority for the City of Pittsburgh. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

January 2021 Develop PGH Bulletins: New affordable housing, at a more affordable price?

Develop PGH Bulletins updates you on the Pittsburgh region's economy, including close coverage of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, City Planning Commission and other important agencies. Please check back frequently, sign up for the Develop PGH newsletter and email rich@publicsource.org with questions, tips or story ideas. 1/28/21: Housing Authority bolsters synagogue rehab
Last month, the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh [HACP] pledged to be more aggressive and innovative in its efforts to spur affordable housing. At its first meeting of 2021, HACP’s board provided an early example by increasing its investment in the pending conversion of the former Congregation B’Nai Israel synagogue, in Garfield, into housing. The stately synagogue, on North Negley Avenue, was most recently an Urban League of Pittsburgh charter school, and is to be converted by a team of developers reportedly including Downtown-based Ralph A. Falbo Inc. and Boston-based Beacon Development.

From left to right: construction technician Don Bivins hauls debris from an Oakland house in February; Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and others ceremonially shovel at a condo groundbreaking in the Strip District in October; East Pittsburgh Borough Manager Seth Abrams points to the site of a proposed fracking operation in January. (Photos by Ryan Loew and Jay Manning/PublicSource)

21, 20, 19 … As Pittsburgh counts down to a new year amid the COVID-19 economy, 2020’s development questions await 2021’s answers.

The 2020 economy ends with many questions for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, and we can only hope that 2021 will answer some of them. Through early January, we’ll raise some of those questions on this page, recap 2020 developments, and share some forward-looking insights. Do you have an economic development question? Email it to rich@publicsource.org. We can’t promise that we have the answer, but we’ll provide whatever intel we can.

People walk along Johnston Avenue in Glen Hazel, near townhomes owned by an affiliate of the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

‘Throwing everything against the wall,’ Pittsburgh’s housing authority aims to dent lengthy waiting lists

As Pittsburgh households waiting for subsidized housing continue to outnumber those receiving such benefits, the agency charged with bridging that gap is dishing bonuses to landlords, floating subsidies to developers and more. “So we do have a crisis” in regard to affordable housing, Caster Binion, executive director of the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh [HACP], said in a December interview with PublicSource. “Rents are going up. So we’re throwing everything against the wall.”

Binion leads an agency responsible for sheltering some 7,755 households, either in its own apartments or those paid through the Housing Choice Voucher program, known as Section 8. At the end of November, there were 11,828 households on the authority’s waiting lists.

Brandi Cox, left, and her mother Nancy Cox-Gilmore stand in front of Nancy's house on Huey Street in McKeesport. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

‘A big elephant in the room.’ A McKeesport mother’s months-long battle to save her house has her home for the holidays, with a deadline looming.

When Nancy Cox-Gilmore faced eviction, she made phone calls, talked with whoever would listen, and prayed. And when those prayers were answered, she shared her good fortune widely — until, over just a few months this year, her efforts nearly cost her everything. As snow fell gently on McKeesport this month, Nancy stood outside of her faintly leaning house on Huey Street, recalling the desperate winter of 1999. During the first week of that year, a district judge approved her eviction from a rental house on Jersey Street. As she awaited her March 2 appeal hearing, she had nowhere to take her children and foster kids.

Lower Hill District parking lots, north of PPG Paints Arena. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

December Develop PGH Bulletins: Allegheny County picks new officer to diversify contracting

Develop PGH Bulletins updates you on the Pittsburgh region's economy, including close coverage of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, City Planning Commission and other important agencies. Please check back frequently, sign up for the Develop PGH newsletter and email rich@publicsource.org with questions, tips or story ideas. 12/17/20: Allegheny County hires from within in bid to diversify contracting
Allegheny County has hired a new chief equity and inclusion officer, charged with increasing minority- and women-owned business participation in contracts, according to a press release from County Executive Rich Fitzgerald’s office. Lisa Edmonds, a Pittsburgh resident, has been the acting director of the county’s Department of Equity and Inclusion since 2019, and before that served as its deputy director beginning in 2005. According to the release, she was chosen from among nearly 100 candidates for the job.

Amanda Papa, 33, of Coraopolis, was arrested during a mental health crisis in 2018. “The whole thing could’ve just been stopped, and we [would] probably pay the therapist way less than these officers, these courts, all the staff, all the records — everything." (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

Resolved to change: Can Allegheny County behavioral crisis teams move fast enough to answer calls for reform?

Someone you love is having a breakdown. They could hurt themselves. Who do you call? If 911 leaps to mind, you’ll likely get a visit in a few minutes — from police, whose training includes behavioral health but is focused more on addressing criminality. If you can remember 1-888-796-8226 (or 1-888-7-YOU-CAN), you’ll get a mental health professional from resolve Crisis Services, a 13-year-old unit of UPMC hired by Allegheny County to handle behavioral incidents.