© 2022 90.5 WESA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Pittsburgh Housing Development Corporation Moves Forward With Upper Hill District Investments

Pittsburgh Housing Development Corporation Upper Hill District House.jpg
Julia Zenkevich
90.5 WESA
The Pittsburgh Housing Development Corporation is rehabilitating 11 additional properties in the Upper Hill District. The houses will be sold to mostly low-and-moderate income homebuyers.

The Pittsburgh Housing Development Corporation on Tuesday announced it has developed 21 affordable homes in the Upper Hill District and invested $4.6 million in affordable housing in the area.

As the housing development affiliate of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the PHDC works with existing community development groups to create opportunities for homeownership that wouldn’t otherwise exist, said Diamonte Walker, the URA’s deputy executive director as well as the executive director of the PHDC.

“The mission is to develop housing throughout the City of Pittsburgh, specifically in low-to-moderate income census tracts where homeownership is less than a dream—it is your wildest dream, it is not the thing that naturally happens,” Walker said.

Since it was established in 1994, PHDC has developed or helped develop nearly 300 units of housing throughout the city, mostly in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods, and invested $68 million in housing.

Most of PHDC’s homes are expected to sell at about 80 percent of the area mean income--or AMI--said David Howe, the PHDC coordinator. In 2020, the average median income in Pittsburgh was $83,000.

“PHDC likes to make sure that we have a good balance of affordable and market rate housing in our neighborhoods, but our bread and butter is that 80 percent, 100 percent AMI,” he said, noting that a family of four might pay roughly $65,000 dollars for a PHDC home.

With assistance and grants from the URA and the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh, it becomes more feasible for low-income families to purchase a house, said Richard Snipe, deputy executive director for the PHDC and assistant director of housing for the URA.

“Do the math: it becomes cheaper than what you could ever rent a house for,” Snipe said.

Homeownership is “the way most families pass on wealth,” said Howe. The program could help many long-time renters and first-time home buyers start to build generational wealth, which could benefit not only the families, but the surrounding community.

“Our ideas and our goals are to have a healthy and affordable community for everybody who would like to live here,” said Phyllis LaVelle, the owner of LaVelle Real Estate and the president of Schenley Heights Collaborative, a nonprofit community development group that works with PHDC.

PHDC has identified 11 additional properties in the Upper Hill for rehabilitation, and has a total of 24 housing units in pre-development across the city.

Julia Zenkevich is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at jzenkevich@wesa.fm.
WESA will be surveying Pennsylvania candidates for federal and state office for the 2022 general election — tell us which issues are most important to you.