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Identity & Community

Pittsburgh Housing Authority Receives HUD Money To Help Low-Income Residents

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Joseph Novak
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Flickr

 

The Housing Authority of Pittsburgh will be able to further a program aimed at helping guide low-income residents through financial barriers, especially housing issues, with the help of federal funding provided Monday. 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded more than $2 million to housing agencies across the Commonwealth to pay for Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program coordinators. The Housing Authority of Pittsburgh will get $304,529 of that and another $169,307 will go to the Allegheny County Housing Authority.

Those FSS coordinators work with low-income residents to assist them through any financial barriers they might face, such as unemployment, going back to school or paying for an unforeseen cost, such as car repairs.

According to Michelle Jackson, chief community affairs officer with the Housing Authority of Pittsburgh, her office can build the houses, but the program strives to make sure those dwellings come with a “homey atmosphere.”

“We work with families in order to find them jobs, in order to find them education and also childcare and kind of break down all types of barriers as it relates to employment, so that they can get a better job, get a job or even become homeowners,” Jackson said.

The federal funds will be used to retain nine coordinators.  Each family in the program is assigned to one of those coordinators, whose salaries will be paid in part by the HUD grant. 

The five-year program requires participating families to sign a contract that defines achievable goals, according to Jackson.

“We monitor and track and work with you to help you to get to those goals," she said. "And if there are any barriers at all in the way, we try to work with you to make sure that you can overcome those barriers so you can reach your dream, whatever it might be.”

Jackson said there are 900 Pittsburgh residents who are currently participating in the FSS program. She noted that not all participants are at the same place financially, so the housing authority works to customize a plan for each participant.

The housing authority also recognizes that the city is in need of more affordable housing and is “embarking on a really aggressive campaign to build housing as fast as we can,” Jackson said. She said she hopes to sign up more landlords to help with the effort.

If more homeowners become landlords, the housing authority should also be able to provide more Section 8 options.