Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

URA's Avenues of Hope grant program awards $2.4 million in first funding round

A street with a building under construction.
Kiley Koscinski
90.5 WESA
Centre Avenue in Pittsburgh's Hill District is one of seven historically-Black corridors in which the city's URA is investing federal COVID relief dollars.

Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority voted Thursday to allocate $2.4 million to Black-owned businesses as part of the agency’s Avenues of Hope (AOH) grant program.

The fund leverages federal American Rescue Plan dollars to revitalize neighborhoods in the city that have experienced historic disinvestment.

That includes Second Avenue, the main commercial district stretching through Hazelwood.

“We live in the community, and what we know we need is [local] ownership of property out here so that we have our stake in the community, so we can get up and walk down to a place that we own,” said Pastor Lutual Love with the Greater Hazelwood Coalition Against Racial and Ethnic Disparities.

The coalition — in partnership with the Hazelwood-based nonprofit P.O.O.R L.A.W. — was awarded $137,000 from the AOH grant program to develop what it’s calling an “Equity One-Stop Shop”.

WESA Inbox Edition Newsletter

Start your morning with today's news on Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania.

The resource center will be housed inside the former Church of the Good Shepherd, complete with office space for community organizations and social service agencies, a health center and a hall residents can rent out for community gatherings.

Love said he hopes to break ground on the $1.7 million project this fall and open the building to the public in March 2024.

URA officials said they received 45 applications across the seven corridors in its first AOH application round, which closed at the end of April. Staff then met with community advisory committees with 10 stakeholders from each corridor to review the projects and provided input.

That information was provided to an ARPA Review Committee, made up of representatives from the URA, Mayor Ed Gainey’s office, the city law department, city planning and the budget and management office to review the applications for compliance with federal COVID relief guidelines and readiness.

From there, 21 grant recipients from 20 organizations were chosen. Of them, 18 are for projects led by minority and women-owned businesses.

“I think the people that have been awarded the money are in a service mindset and are crucial to that revitalization,” said Georgetta Rue, whose Hazelwood-based consulting firm DeLoJe is slated to receive $141,000 for office and studio renovations.

Other projects awarded include $200,000 to build out two commercial spaces inside the Givner building on Homewood Avenue, $190,000 for a day care and event space on Perrysville Avenue and $180,000 to redevelop the Hill House on Centre Avenue.

“I think this is a good example of American Rescue Plan dollars being put to work for the benefit of our communities and the benefit of our residents,” URA Board Chair Kyle Chintalappali said.

The URA board said it plans to allocate the fund’s remaining $4.5 million of the $7 million program to projects in seven corridors throughout the city.

 Bar graph showing the percentage of funds remaining for each Avenues of Hope corridor.
Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh

Each corridor will be allotted up to $1 million in grants. On Brownsville Avenue and Chartiers Avenue, much of the money has yet to be awarded.

“It's impressive that we're awarding this many grants and received that many applications, notwithstanding the additional outreach in those areas where we thought we'd need to do a little bit more,” Chintalapalli added. “And we're going to do that.”

Business owners can apply for low-interest financing and grants through the program’s next funding round on the URA’s website. Applications will close at the end of July.

Jillian Forstadt is an education reporter at 90.5 WESA. Before moving to Pittsburgh, she covered affordable housing, homelessness and rural health care at WSKG Public Radio in Binghamton, New York. Her reporting has appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition.