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URA and Hazelwood Initiative Partner to Preserve Affordable Housing in Hazelwood

August 8, 2019

Housing Opportunity Fund Rental Gap Program to provide $400,000 loan

The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) Board of Directors voted today to approve a $400,000 loan agreement with Hazelwood Initiative, Inc. for the preservation of 22 units of affordable rental housing throughout the Hazelwood neighborhood of the City of Pittsburgh.

The loan agreement will provide combined construction/permanent financing for the acquisition and moderate rehabilitation of 22 existing rental units for the next 35 years, as part of the Hazelwood Affordable Rental Preservation Program (HARPP).

“I want to thank Hazelwood Initiative and the URA for developing this important partnership. Working together, we will make sure that Hazelwood has a strong affordable housing market, and that our most vulnerable residents have the opportunity to stay in the neighborhood,” said Councilman Corey O’Connor.

HARPP is a three-phased, multi-year rental preservation strategy spearheaded by Hazelwood Initiative (HI). HI has entered into a purchase agreement with David Cunningham, a retired Pittsburgh firefighter and landlord who grew up in Glen Hazel, to purchase 63 affordable rental units scattered throughout Hazelwood. Many are occupied by Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher tenants. Other “market rate” units are rented at extremely affordable rates. Many tenants have lived in their current units for 10+ years.

Phase one will occur in September 2019 with HI purchasing the first 22 units. Seventeen of the units are in good to excellent shape and will not require any work once the sale occurs; Five will need moderate repairs and updating.

Five units will be rented to households at or below 30% AMI and 12 units will be rented to households at or below 50% AMI. Additionally, the HI intends to seek Project-Based Section 8 rental assistance through the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh (HACP).

The funds for HARPP will be distributed through the Housing Opportunity Fund (HOF) Rental Gap Program. The HOF Rental Gap Program is intended to help fund the creation or preservation of affordable rental housing City-wide, specifically targeting households at or below 30% AMI and 50% AMI. The HOF Advisory Board approved this funding allocation at its August 1, 2019 meeting.

“The Housing Opportunity Fund is proud to make this investment and partner with Hazelwood Initiative in its efforts to ensure housing that is affordable for Hazelwood families. As nearby development is underway, it is a priority of ours to support current residents and keep them in their homes. This board action is a step in the right direction for the community,” said Jessica Smith Perry, HOF director.

The Greater Hazelwood community has worked with the Department of City Planning over the past 18 months to develop a comprehensive neighborhood plan. In its draft plan, one of the highest priorities identified by existing residents is to ensure future development does not come at the cost of displacement of longtime residents. The Hazelwood Green site calls for 3,200 new units of housing, the majority of which may be market rate. The purchase of the HARPP portfolio is an effort to get ahead of rising property values and rents that may occur in the Hazelwood community.

Hazelwood Initiative also currently operates a robust rehab for resale program in the neighborhood, renovating homes and providing affordable homeownership opportunities to Hazelwood residents. Combined with HARPP, these offerings serve as invaluable resources to a neighborhood experiencing such rampant speculation and transformation.

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