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Pittsburgh, PA 15219

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Penn Plaza Residents Receiving Resources for Relocation

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Photo courtesy of J.L. Martello

Photo courtesy of J.L. Martello

This past July, the owners of the Penn Plaza apartment complex in East Liberty sent letters to approximately 200 residents, many of them with low to moderate incomes, notifying them that their leases would not be renewed and they would have 90 days to relocate and make way for redevelopment of the site.

The mass dissemination of the non-renewal notices to tenants created a crisis among Penn Plaza residents and community leaders. Because there are no affordability restrictions in place, the City and local leadership had minimal leverage to protect the residents. However, thanks to the leadership of the Penn Plaza Tenant Council, Action United and City of Pittsburgh officials were engaged to work with the property owner on a revised plan to help tenants with relocation efforts. Together, an agreement was reached to secure relocation help, and forge commitments to support construction of affordable housing across East End neighborhoods including East Liberty, Larimer, Lincoln-Lemington and Homewood.

According to a press release issued by the City of Pittsburgh, the above mentioned agreement “creates a new standard for developments across Pittsburgh that threaten to displace long-term residents”.

“This is an agreement that helps us reach two critical goals: providing comfort to Penn Plaza residents worried about finding new homes, and creating new commitments for all residents of East Liberty that they will be able to remain in the neighborhood and share in its growth.”

–Mayor Bill Peduto

At Neighborhood Allies, we envision a Pittsburgh with healthy neighborhoods that are thriving, resilient, and livable for all! And when we say “for all,” we mean “for all”, especially life-long residents. We are committed to building a Pittsburgh in which all residents live in neighborhoods that have equal access to not only affordable and quality housing options, but education, jobs, healthcare and neighborhood amenities as well. So we were ready to jump in and help when local government leadership approached us to manage the relocation services that are being provided to the tenants. In November, the URA approved $300,000 in funding to support the relocation services to be offered to Penn Plaza residents and our work began.

With the City’s assistance, and with input from the tenant council, we reviewed various proposals and selected Interstate Acquisition Services (IAS) to perform the day-to-day relocation services including meeting with residents, identifying potential relocation resources, facilitating moves, etc. In mid-November, IAS established a relocation office on site at Penn Plaza staffed with a full-time relocation advisor who has been contacting each tenant to discuss relocation concerns, identify replacement dwellings and provide assistance in accessing relocation payments and support services.

Over the next year, Neighborhood Allies and our partners will continue our work to transition residents into housing that is decent, safe and affordable AND connect the residents of Penn Plaza to additional services and economic opportunities, including:

  • Engaging and assessing resident needs to determine the range of services that are to be provided to tenants to minimize hardship in adjusting to relocation;
  • Providing connections to existing Financial Opportunity Centers which offer, 1) Employment Coaching, 2) Financial Education and Coaching, and 3) Access to Income Supports;
  • Convening, Facilitating, and Brokering Connections, Networks, and Potential Partners to 1) Create connections to homeownership opportunities/assistance and 2) Identify and connect crisis response and social services providers;
  • Documenting this process by publishing and distributing a case study to serve as a resource for other neighborhoods to help mitigate the impact of displacement.

We are actively looking for more ways to connect the Penn Plaza residents with resources to assist with moving and relocation. If you or your organization can help, please reach out to us. Stay tuned for more news on Penn Plaza and the resident relocation services being provided!

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