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Pittsburgh Residents Can Now Apply For Free Housing Legal Help

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Katie Blackley
/
90.5 WESA
The Urban Redevelopment Association's Diamonte Walker says the city hopes to resolve eviction disputes before they get to court

Pittsburgh's Urban Redevelopment Authority has announced a $1 million initiative, launched on Monday, to help renters and homeowners alike deal with housing issues like eviction and forecosure.

Renters can access everything from legal advice to full courtroom representation to deal with an eviction. But the aim is to prevent evictions in the first place. To that end, the program will offer mediation between landlords and tenants, said Diamonte Walker, deputy executive director of the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

“This has been a proven method to resolve issues … without involving the courts,” Walker said in a statement.

A national moratorium on evictions was set to expire in June, and a federal judge struck down the ban last week. The U.S. Department of Justice has since filed an appeal.

Homeowners, meanwhile, can work with a lawyer to get clear title to a home or to prevent foreclosure.

The money comes from the city’s Housing Opportunity Fund, which worked with stakeholders to ensure that the program guidelines were as inclusive as possible, city officials said.

In a release, Mayor Bill Peduto said access to housing is a basic human right “and for too many Pittsburghers during this pandemic the threat of losing homes has been a constant worry, especially for those with low incomes.”

Families who rent and make 50% or less of area median income will qualify for help under the program. For families who own their own homes, the income threshold for aid is 80% or less.

The program also sets aside $43,000 for city residents who don’t have legal documentation, and so don’t qualify for other assistance programs.

Those who need help can contact RentHelpPGH or the Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation.

Margaret J. Krauss is WESA’s senior reporter. She covers development and transportation, and has produced award-winning podcasts on housing, work, and Pittsburgh’s lesser-known history. Before joining the newsroom full time, she covered the challenges facing Pennsylvania cities as a statewide reporter, and spent another life as an assistant editor for National Geographic Kids Magazine in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at mkrauss@wesa.fm.
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