PITTSBURGH, PA (May 10, 2021) The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) announced today that the Housing Opportunity Fund’s (HOF) Legal Assistance Program (LAP) is officially up and running just in time to meet the legal needs of City residents as the national eviction moratorium is set to expire in June 2021. The $1 million program is expected to serve over 1,300 households.
LAP is the first legal assistance program in the City of Pittsburgh to offer a slate of five different free legal services to income-qualifying households. The services include:
“Access to housing is a basic human right, and for too many Pittsburghers during this pandemic the threat of losing homes has been a constant worry, especially for those with low incomes. The City and URA are doing all they can to provide tenants and homeowners with the protections they need to provide their families shelter,” Mayor William Peduto said.
At the April 2021 URA Board meeting, five agencies were approved to serve as the providers for the Legal Assistance Program. The firms are:
The Legal Assistance Program was funded out of the Housing Opportunity Fund 2021 Annual Allocation Plan. The guidelines were approved in March 2021 after a robust community input process gathering feedback on program design from nearly a dozen groups operating in the housing and legal assistance environment in Pittsburgh.
“We set out to make a comprehensive legal assistance program that serves both tenants and homeowners,” said URA Deputy Executive Director Diamonte Walker. “We’ve incorporated systems to make it easier to obtain financial assistance to help resolve the housing issue - whether that is rent assistance, mortgage payments or financing to help landlords fix up their units. We are also excited to bring mediation services into the mix as this has been a proven method to resolve issues between landlords and tenants, prevent eviction filings, and stabilize households often without involving the courts.”
The program is utilizing RentHelpPGH and the Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation (PHDC) to serve as coordinated entry for this program, because they have been providing a similar service throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, $43,000 of funding is specifically earmarked to serve residents who may be undocumented or otherwise ineligible from receiving services from other legal assistance providers.
Walker continued, “It was imperative to ensure that the program was diverse - in services and staff. This slate of services ensures that we meet the housing legal needs of our residents, regardless of where they are in resolving their problem. We also ensured that we had diverse providers offering the services.”
To be eligible, renters must have total household income at or below 50% Area Median Income (AMI) and homeowners must have total household income at or below 80% AMI. Participants must be a City of Pittsburgh resident. The legal need must be related to housing stability.
For a Legal Assistance Program referral, please call: 412-534-6600
For non-English speakers, call: 412-530-5244