URA board approves crucial step toward $50 million housing grant bid

The Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh [HACP] labor crew member Kevin Williams of the Hill District cuts one of a series of lawns in Bedford Dwellings on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, in the Hill District. (Photo by Stephanie Strasburg/PublicSource)

A pact between the city’s redevelopment and housing authorities sets stage for application

by Eric Jankiewicz, PublicSource

Pittsburgh’s housing authority is one step closer to securing $50 million in federal funding to completely rebuild and transform the city’s oldest public housing development. 

The deadline is Jan. 11 for the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh [HACP] to apply for federal Choice Neighborhoods program funds to completely replace the 411 units of Bedford Dwellings with more than 800 mixed-income units. To complete the application process, the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s board unanimously approved plans on Thursday to enter into an option agreement to sell 80 URA properties in the targeted area to the HACP and to a private entity.

As part of the application process, HACP has to demonstrate control of the targeted site, which led to the URA option agreement with the housing authority. While the HACP is the applicant for the program, they are working with the URA and TREK Development Group, the selected building partner, to plan and — if the Choice Neighborhoods funding is awarded — complete the project. 

During Thursday’s meeting, Pittsburgh City Councilman R, Daniel Lavelle, who sits on the URA board, noted that the URA wouldn’t be immediately transferring land with this move. 

“We’re not transferring land; we’re entering into an option agreement,” Lavelle said. “We’re probably about three or four years away from attempting to transfer land. Rest assured, we have lots of time to work with the community to make sure we get it right.”

Lavelle made his comment in response to Rev. Lee Walls of Amani Christian Community Development, who expressed concern about the transferring  of land from the URA to the housing authority. “Upper Hill District residents have not seen any development in their part of the Hill District,” he said. Bedford Dwellings is adjacent to the Middle Hill.

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