URA Supporting Affordable Housing in Homewood and Garfield/Friendship

PITTSBURGH, PA (Feburary 11, 2020) The URA Board of Directors is set to vote Thursday on affordable housing developments in Homewood South and Garfield/Friendship.

The board is expected to vote to enter into loan and grant agreements with Operation Better Block (OBB) for the acquisition and rehabilitation of 627 N. Homewood Avenue, better known as the James T. Givner Building, in the Homewood South neighborhood. The building will contain two retail spaces on the ground floor which will be occupied by two neighborhood-serving businesses. The second and third floors will include six affordable, one-bedroom units. Four of the units will be rented to tenants with incomes at or below 50% of Area Median Income (AMI) and two units will be rented to tenants with incomes at or below 80% AMI. All utilities, with the exception of tenants’ electric, will be paid by the owner.

Historically, the Givner Building has been a key component of Homewood's Business District and formerly housed the WURP Radio Station, a barbershop, a dental office, and the Homewood-Brushton Revitalization & Development Corporation offices. The proposed redevelopment will complete the development of the key intersection of North Homewood Avenue and Kelly Street, and anchor a strategic section of the Business District with the creation of the new affordable rental units and commercial spaces.

"This building is key to both the history and the future of Homewood, and I'm very happy the URA and Operation Better Block are supporting its rebirth," Mayor William Peduto said.

OBB will serve as the borrower, developer, Housing Opportunity Fund (HOF) nonprofit applicant, service provider, and property manager for the project. The complete renovation of the building includes new interior finishes, furnishings, structural supports, and roofing as well as exterior improvements such as door/window modifications, accessibility enhancements, and landscaping of the adjacent lot. The adjoining vacant lot will be used for outdoor seating and/or supportive green space. The total cost of the redevelopment is budgeted at $2,319,085. 

"The URA has enjoyed working with Jerome Jackson and his team at Operation Better Block. Their hard work and dedication to developing Homewood's business corridor is evident. The redevelopment of the Givner Building will help create a vibrant business corridor while also providing affordable housing options for neighborhood residents," URA Director of Housing Opportunities Jessica Smith Perry said.

Loans will be provided from the Housing Opportunity Fund (HOF) Rental Gap Program, the Rental Housing Development and Improvement Program, the Urban Development Action Grant Program Income Fund, and URA Streetface Program; grants will be provided from the Community Development Investment Fund and a URA Department of Community and Economic Development Keystone award.

The URA Board will also vote to approve a HOF Rental Gap Program (RGP) loan for $400,000 with Montana Development Corporation (MDC), in partnership with Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation, to provide combined construction/permanent financing for the renovation andpreservation of the Montana Building, a 16-unit affordable building for individuals and families.

Located at 5456 Penn Ave. in Garfield/Friendship, the Montana Building consists of eight one-bedroom units, and eight two-bedroom units. All 16 units are occupied by low-income households and rented at affordable rates. The property has operated as an affordable apartment building since 1992 when MDC was incorporated as a nonprofit and purchased and renovated the property. 

After 28 years, the building needs additional rehabilitation. Most of the needed repairs are exterior, including the fire escapes, roof, masonry, repointing, and repainting. The building interior has been well maintained and units have been updated over the years. Minor interior repairs will be completed as part of the construction contract, including common area electrical, new furnaces, and kitchen cabinets/countertops based on unit needs. 

The HOF funds being provided will ensure permanent affordability, with four units to be rented to households with incomes at or below 30% AMI and 12 units rented to households with incomes at or below 50% AMI. 

At its February 6, 2020 meeting, the HOF Advisory board passed a motion to award this project a HOF RGP loan in the amount of $400,000. The HOF RGP is intended to help fund the creation of new affordable housing and/or preserve affordable housing citywide, specifically targeting households at or below 30 % AMI and 50% AMI. 

About Operation Better Block (OBB):
Founded in 1970 to overcome neighborhood blight and deterioration, OBB's mission is to strategize, organize and mobilize, block by block, to benefit the Homewood community. This is accomplished through technical and community assistance provided to block associations, fostering youth development, participating in housing development efforts, and encouraging and supporting public and private investments to stimulate economic development in the community. 

About Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation (BGC):
The BGC exists to improve the quality of life of the residents of Garfield and the surrounding neighborhoods. It does this through several real estate development and people-focused activities.  

Gigi Saladna
Senior Communications Manager
Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh



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Timothy McNulty
Communications Director
Mayor's Office