Affordable urban housing in the Hill District by TREK Development.

It’s been two years since the Pittsburgh Affordable Housing Task Force found that the city faces a massive shortfall in affordable housing and related support. This week, money may finally be available to begin addressing that problem. 

Affordable housing projects in the City of Pittsburgh are set to receive $10 million in funding, pending a vote by the Urban Development Authority (URA) this Thursday, Sept. 13.

The advisory board overseeing the fund has recommended several specific areas where the money should be applied, including $3.8 million for the construction of affordable rental units and $1.2 million to renovate vacant properties.  

The money comes from the city’s Affordable Housing Fund, a new city initiative that has been winding its way through local bureaucracy ever since the City Council task force pushed for progress.

“As the city continues to grow, emphasizing the needs of our most vulnerable populations — seniors, working families and long-term residents — will be critical towards preserving the vitality of our city and neighborhoods,” the report said.

Following the report, City Council voted to create the Affordable Housing Fund to address the issue. But they didn’t specify where the funding was supposed to come from, so the project languished for more than a year as council members deliberated.

In December 2017, a solution emerged: City Council voted to increase real estate transfer taxes by .5 percent, which they estimate will generate $10 million per year for the fund. This week, the URA’s board will determine where that money will go.

Once the budget is approved, City Council members have said they hope the first investments can come within the next few months.

“Ultimately, these goals express the desire of the task force to continue to grow the city’s tax base, build vibrant, resilient communities and create and preserve mixed-income neighborhoods,” said the 2016 report. “As Pittsburgh looks forward to growth for the first time in over 60 years, we are working to make sure that growth is equitable and inclusive.”

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.