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Pittsburgh’s Housing Authority plans a $50 million revitalization of Bedford Dwellings

Jake Savitz
90.5 WESA

The Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh will apply for a $50 million grant for the Hill District in 2022, officials announced at a community meeting Tuesday night. The federal money, called a Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant, would be used to rebuild and expand the authority’s oldest housing development, Bedford Dwellings.

During a period of nearly 10 years, the plan would replace an existing 411 subsidized units as well as add a yet-to-be-determined number of market-rate ones. The Choice Neighborhoods program aims to “help communities transform neighborhoods,” according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. An application must clearly lay out how the authority intends to improve housing, support people and strengthen the larger community.

This year’s application process builds off ongoing work, officials said: HACP received a grant in 2016 to work with residents to create a plan for the area’s revitalization. The agency applied in 2018 to redevelop the lower portion of Bedford Dwellings, but HUD did not select the proposal for funding.

The authority’s Alexis Narotsky said it has worked with residents ever since to continue to build a plan. This time, the agency’s application will be to rebuild Bedford Dwellings in its entirety. In addition, she said, other development planned for the Lower Hill may help the authority’s application.

“HUD likes to see investment happening in the neighborhood,” she said. “We might not focus [our investment] in that area, but to be able to list those investments that are already taking place is a really positive thing.”

The authority plans to spend the next few months meeting with residents and community members before submitting an application in October.

Even without the Choice implementation grant, officials said they will still move ahead to build new homes for residents on Somers Drive. The authority is working with Trek Development to build Reed + Roberts, a 125-unit development with senior housing, townhomes and a community center.

The update from the housing authority was just one part of a larger, two-hour community update hosted by the Hill Community Development Corporation. The Greater Hill District is in the midst of updating its community master plan so it can be reviewed and adopted by the city.

The neighborhood planning processdirected by Pittsburgh’s Department of City Planning wasn’t fully codified when the community completed its last plan. When a neighborhood plan is adopted by the city, it helps ensure that a community’s vision for itself is taken into consideration when developers seek city approval for their projects.

City planning officials and staff from the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure provided updates and asked for community input as the process moves forward. Overall, residents have told the city they would like to see infrastructure investment in the Middle Hill before additional investment is made in the Lower Hill. In addition, officials said they have heard the need for improved sidewalks, enhanced pedestrian improvements and greater access for seniors or people with disabilities.