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Shared Real Estate Talent At Work on the Ground | Affordable Housing in Perry Hilltop and Fineview

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The Perry Hilltop and Fineview Citizens Councils had a successful and exciting 2019, with significant strides made in their education initiatives, organizational capacity building, as well as their beautification, transportation, and community engagement work. Additionally, with the help of our shared real estate talent program, they have also made progress in affordable housing projects in the Perry Hilltop and Fineview neighborhoods. With added expertise from consultant Tom Hardy, the organizations were able to access $525k in funding to develop 5 affordable rental units and one commercial unit.

Community Members at a January 28th PHCC & FCC community meeting, where the 5-year Affordable Housing Plan was first presented.

The Perry Hilltop Citizens Council and Fineview Citizens Council (PHCC & FCC) came together in the winter of 2016 to begin collaborating on a joint community plan. Over the course of two years, the councils created a comprehensive plan that would inform neighborhood development and put forward a shared vision for their hilltop communities. From the plan came several priority areas: public safety, housing, jobs and economic development, education, public health, art and cultural preservation, mobility and transportation, and open space. The process involved lots of community engagement, discussion, and many community gatherings. In fact, Executive Director of the joint councils, Joanna Deming, states that their success is owed in large part to the high level of engagement present in their communities. Drawing on community members’ passion and skill, and in order to begin implementing some of the recommendations put forth in the plan, the board created 3 working groups for housing, education, and events made up of board and council members, as well as other residents.

Shortly after completing the full community plan, the PHCC and FCC decided to focus on one of their priority areas by creating a 5-year affordable housing plan for their communities. The plan was created with the help of consultants Studio for Spatial Practice, Valentina Vavasis, and Ariam Ford. Their vision for housing in Perry Hilltop and Fineview is as follows:

The mission of the Housing Working Group is to preserve and expand permanently affordable rental housing, and to expand opportunities for affordable homeownership.  We also encourage appropriate commercial development and address blighted and abandoned properties that affect our quality of life. We work to prevent resident displacement, and create a cooperative, vibrant, sustainable, and thriving community as detailed in our community plan. 

The newly created Housing Working Group, along with the rest of the council, began to craft strategies that would help them reach their affordable housing goals. They worked with planning and development consultants to create a strategic, prioritized, data-driven plan for preserving and meaningfully expanding the neighborhood’s inventory of affordable homes. Based on their research and planning, they decided that the housing plan should target the creation of permanently-affordable, workforce housing to serve households with income levels between 30-50% of the area median income for the Pittsburgh region or AMI.

“The Housing Working Group is dedicated to creating affordable housing in our community and keeping the neighborhood diverse and inclusive. As co-chair, I am proud to be on the forefront of this effort and love getting out there for our community.”

        – Fred Smith, Co-chair of the HWG and long-time resident

19 Lanark Street (building on the left) is currently being managed as an affordable rental unit, while 21 Lanark Street (building on the right) is being prepared for renovation.

In 2019, PHCC & FCC began to advance and implement outlined strategies by securing the funds to develop and manage 5 affordable rental units and one commercial unit. The plan identified three areas in the community to focus their first efforts on: Fineview at Lanark Street, Perrysville Avenue at Wilson Avenue, and Perrysville Avenue at Charles Street. These areas fell within an achievable range of development, given the organizations’ existing capacity, existing property ownership, and realistic rehabilitation expectations.

9 Lanark St., another unit soon to be completed and managed as an affordable rental unit.

2133 Perrysville Avenue, another unit soon to be completed and managed as an affordable rental unit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Included in the list of individuals that aided with getting the plans for affordable housing off the ground was Neighborhood Allies Shared Real Estate Consultant Tom Hardy. Tom provided financial expertise, strategic direction, creation of proformas for funding proposals, and participated in the Housing Working Group to aid in the crafting and first steps of the affordable housing plan. In order to ensure Tom was a consistent resource for the organization, Neighborhood Allies covered half of the cost of his total consulting hours.

To date, PHCC and FCC have acquired 4 of the living spaces and already successfully manage one as an affordable rental unit.


About our Shared Real Estate Talent Program

Our Shared Real Estate Talent Program assists CDCs, CBOs, and emerging community-driven developers to successfully complete real estate projects and find appropriate roles and partnerships in the development of projects in their communities. This positions us to systematically supply critical technical assistance that allows local community organizations and emerging developers to access critical early stage expertise in evaluating a project, including design, budgeting, operating projections and right-sizing the financing package.

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