In an effort to help first time homebuyers contend with rising real estate costs, the City of Pittsburgh set aside $15 million from federal American Rescue Plan aid for grants and deferred mortgages. 

The Urban Redevelopment Authority [URA], the city’s economic development agency, discussed the emerging OwnPGH program on Thursday during its board meeting as a step toward finalizing the effort. The URA and the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh [HACP] would run OwnPGH to help first time homebuyers who make 80% or less of the area median income [AMI]. If approved, OwnPGH would provide grants of up to $50,000 and HACP would add an additional $40,000 in deferred mortgages.

“We’re beginning this conversation and getting the program off the ground,” said Derek Kendall-Morris, URA’s manager of consumer lending. “The overall goal is to increase access to homeownership across the city to potential homebuyers at or below 80% AMI.”

The URA currently can only provide deferred financing to people who are buying houses that are being constructed or rehabilitated through the agency’s housing development programs, according to the URA staff’s report to the board. If approved, the program would allow the URA to give up to $50,000 to first time homebuyers who make 80% or below the AMI. In the Pittsburgh area, 80% of the AMI for a household of one is $53,100, and for a household of four it’s $75,850.

Under the new program, homeowners who purchase a place through OwnPGH will be required, for 30 years, to only sell to other buyers who make 80% of AMI or less.

Additionally, the housing authority’s deferred mortgage of up to $40,000 would require no regular payment and would have a 0% interest rate, according to the URA. If the house isn’t sold within 10 years, the deferred mortgage would be fully forgiven.  

Kendall-Morris told the URA board that the agency has begun to increase their staffing to accommodate the expected increase in work from the new program.

“We believe we’re prepared to launch the program,” he said. “We’ve begun to staff up in preparation for launch. So we’re pretty much ready to go.”

Because funding for the program would come through the American Rescue Plan [ARP], it would have to be used by 2027.

The URA will accept feedback and continue to finalize the plan, and the board may vote on final approval in October. After that, a funding agreement will have to be finalized by the city in order for the ARP funds to be accessible.

Eric Jankiewicz is PublicSource’s economic development reporter, and can be reached at or on Twitter @ericjankiewicz.

Know more than you did before? Support this work with a MATCHED gift!

Through Dec. 31, the Wyncote Foundation, Loud Hound Foundation and our generous local match pool supporters will match your new monthly donation 12 times or double your one-time gift, all up to $1,000. Now that's good news!

Readers tell us they can't find the information they get from our reporting anywhere else, and we're proud to provide this important service for our community. We work hard to produce accurate, timely, impactful journalism without paywalls that keeps our region informed and moving forward.

However, only about .1% of the people who read our stories contribute to our work financially. Our newsroom depends on the generosity of readers like yourself to make our high-quality local journalism possible, and the costs of the resources it takes to produce it have been rising, so each member means a lot to us.

Your MATCHED donation to our nonprofit newsroom helps ensure everyone in Allegheny County can stay up-to-date about decisions and events that affect them. Please make your gift of support now.

Eric Jankiewicz is a reporter focused on housing and economic development for PublicSource. A native New Yorker, Eric moved to Pittsburgh in 2017 and has since fallen in love with his adopted city, even...