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Pittsburgh Housing Authority approves $500k contract to improve Section 8 housing voucher program

A tall stone building in Downtown with the address 412.
Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
The HACP offices at 412 Boulevard of the Allies.

Board members of the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh have approved a contract for up to $500,000 to improve the agency’s beleaguered Section 8 voucher program.

The contract, with Florida-based CVR and Associates was approved unanimously after a brief discussion Thursday at the board’s monthly meeting.

The Housing Choice Voucher program, commonly referred to as Section 8, subsidizes rent for tenants who live in privately-owned rental units. More than 5,000 families in Pittsburgh use a voucher to help pay for their housing through the program.

Landlords had long complained about delays and red tape around the program. But the program’s problems seem to have gotten worse, or at least more public, since the pandemic. Earlier this year, an HACP board member resigned and publicly blasted the agency’s management of the program; a former staff member filed a complaint with the state in February over what she alleged was “negligence and misconduct.” Last year, a transition team report for Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey was highly critical of the agency’s management of the program, saying it was “aggravating the affordable housing crisis in Pittsburgh.”

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In May, housing authority officials acknowledged some problems and told WESA they were working to hire more staff and make customer service improvements.

At Thursday’s meeting, HACP chief operations officer Marsha Grayson said that CVR and Associates would be used to train new HACP staff and said the firm had a “national reputation.”

The contract for “advisory services” is for a term of eight months with two one-year options to renew, according to the board’s resolution.

A spokesman for the housing authority said the agency had used the firm previously in 2020 for a one-year contract and in 2021 for other technical assistance.

Corrected: October 26, 2023 at 2:50 PM EDT
Updated comment from housing authority spokesman.
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.