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After years of planning, $50 million grant awarded for overhaul of Pittsburgh’s Bedford Dwellings

A sign reading "Welcome Bedford Dwellings" with old, three-story red brick apartment buildings in the background.
Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s housing authority has received a highly competitive and long-sought $50 million federal grant to overhaul Bedford Dwellings, its oldest public housing property.

The funding means the Hill District site’s 411 public housing units will be replaced and hundreds of other homes will be added nearby, both market-rate and affordable housing.

The brick barracks-style Bedford Dwellings opened in 1940; its development was approved by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938. Much of the city’s other public housing from this era has been torn down or redeveloped.

The Choice Neighborhoods grant aims to “[revitalize] severely distressed” public housing and “[catalyze] critical improvements in the neighborhood, including vacant property, housing, businesses, services and schools,” according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The city’s housing authority had previously applied for a Choice grant for Bedford Dwellings in 2018 but was not selected.

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Three members of Congress announced the award late last week; the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development made the news official on Wednesday.

“We are extremely happy for the residents of Bedford Dwellings,” Caster Binion, Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh executive director, said in a statement. “They have been patient and engaged throughout the planning process and we’re at this point due to their persistent efforts. Additionally, there are a host of partner organizations that have dedicated significant resources toward preparing for this moment.”

The city’s Planning Commission approved a plan for the first two phases at the site during their Tuesday meeting. Construction is expected to start this fall and the entire project is expected to take about eight years.

“Community leaders in the Hill District have been working tirelessly for years to reimagine Bedford Dwellings into a neighborhood anchor where residents can live, work, and play in a vibrant and safe environment and with this funding, they can make that vision a reality,” Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Casey said in a statement.

Last year, Pittsburgh city council passed a measure to approve $31 million in additional funds for the neighborhood if HACP was selected to receive the coveted grant. Under the Choice Neighborhoods model, there is a major emphasis on improvements to the surrounding neighborhood and social services for residents, in addition to improvements to housing.

HACP has also received a $30 million Choice implementation grant to overhaul housing in Larimer and East Liberty; it has also received Choice Neighborhoods planning grants for Allegheny Dwellings in Pittsburgh’s North Side, in addition to the Bedford planning grant.

Reporter Margaret J. Krauss contributed to this story.

Updated: July 26, 2023 at 2:02 PM EDT
This story was updated to include notice of HUD's official announcement of the grant.
Kate Giammarise focuses her reporting on poverty, social services and affordable housing. Before joining WESA, she covered those topics for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for nearly five years; prior to that, she spent several years in the paper’s Harrisburg bureau covering the legislature, governor and state government. She can be reached at or 412-697-2953.