What we do
We are working on the following fronts to ensure low- and moderate-income residents of Hazelwood benefit from the new investments in the community.
In response to the imminent development of Hazelwood Green, we are empowering existing residents through:
Acquisition and improvement of 63 affordable rental units over the next 3 years for preservation as permanently affordable housing.
Renovation of single-family houses for sale to low & moderate-income first-time buyers.
- Preservation of historic Gladstone School and development of 44 permanently affordable rental units in partnership with the Community Builders
Creation and management of a 2-unit supported rental project designed to help Hazelwood renters become homeowners
We are partnering with the developers of Hazelwood Green and the URA to ensure that 2nd Avenue remains the focus of retail development in the community.
To that end, we are now redeveloping four properties on 2nd Avenue and have been deeply involved in the URA's proposal for the 4800 block to ensure a neighborhood-sensitive development. The goal is to create a walkable town center that will serve both existing and new residents of Hazelwood.
Fostering Economic Mobility
Constituent service is a constant in our community-based office. To increase our effectiveness, HI recently began a partnership with Catapult Greater Pittsburgh to provide financial & homebuyer education to Hazelwood residents seeking to improve their financial circumstances.
Hazelwood Initiative, Inc.
4901 Second Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15207
Work & History
In 2016, HI launched the Neighborhood Investment Fund, a community-led small grants program used to sponsor organizations and small businesses that are working to improve the community. To date, we have granted nearly $100,000 to local groups and businesses.
In response to Hazelwood residents' needs during the COVID pandemic, the grant program has converted to a COVID relief grant and will be used to provide rent & mortgage assistance and gift cards to grocery and general goods stores.
Our work is geared toward Hazelwood's most important asset: people. To help strengthen Hazelwood's community, HI provides monthly forums for neighbors to advocate for better services and enjoy community-building and social activities.
Cletus (left), owner of C&D's Kitchen
History | Early Years
Hazelwood Initiative grew out of two groups, the first of which started in 1994 when over a dozen determined residents founded the Hazelwood Neighborhood Maintenance Task Force (HNMTF), which sought to address day-to-day maintenance issues in the community. They maintained vacant lots, secured abandoned houses, and picked up litter in the business district and along the river
During the late 1990s, the neighborhood task force joined with the Hazelwood Economic Leveraging Partnership, a local group which garnered funds for local development and opposed the rebuilding of the LTV Steel’s Coke Works that employed most of the community, but also increased risks to the health of the community. Soon after plans for a new coke plant were defeated, the two groups merged into the Hazelwood Initiative, Inc. Chartered in 1999, HI was a recognized 501(c)(3) community-based nonprofit organization dedicated to betterment of the Greater Hazelwood area
HI's current office: 4901 Second Ave, 2nd Fl (above C&D's Kitchen)
Rising to the Occasion
The group recognized that growing affordable housing and protecting neighborhood assets would be key to the community's revitalization. This led to HI becoming a community development corporation (CDC), with the increased capacity and partnerships to purchase and renovate residential & commercial properties, organize stakeholders to build consensus and guide planning, and ultimately put development in the hands of the community.
The ongoing development of Hazelwood Green (formerly Almono) on a 178-acre brownfield that once housed an LTV Coke Plant, along with a decline in affordable housing in Pittsburgh, has brought increased attention to Hazelwood from developers and business owners. Seeing that the community's lower priced houses could be vulnerable to speculation or further decay, HI sought funding from Pittsburgh's foundation community to purchase, rehab, and sell homes to Hazelwood residents with lower incomes to help them benefit from future development.
Today: Growth, Collaboration & Future Planning
Additionally, HI sought to secure buildings that once served community needs, but remained vacant and added to the neighborhood's blight. The purchase and restoration of the Burgwin School in 2014 into a Propel charter school, our agreement to buy over 60 rental units from one of the community's biggest landlords, and the current redevelopment of the former Gladstone School into affordable rental housing are just a few examples.
Today, HI is led by a board that reflects the diversity of Greater Hazelwood, with a staff dedicated to engaging the community and implementing a shared vision of equitable development. As a member of the Greater Hazelwood Community Collaborative (GHCC), HI joined with other community based organizations in the creation of of the Greater Hazelwood Neighborhood Plan, which was adopted by the City's Planning Commission in November 2019.
Guided by the Neighborhood Plan, our development principles, and our mission of "building a stronger Hazelwood through inclusive community development," HI is committed to an approach that avoids displacement and creates opportunities for residents and small businesses to benefit from the neighborhood's future growth.