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April 11 community meeting highlights: Affordable housing | The Homepage

Chatsworth update; affordable housing nonprofits working in Hazelwood; summer opportunities for kids and teens

By Juliet Martinez


The April 11 community meeting brought participants together over Zoom to learn about affordable housing innovations guided by the communities they serve, in this case, Hazelwood.


A modular duplex townhome viewed from the south east angle. Rain barrels and plantings are visible along the side. The front has a small porch and walkway, with a shrub between the walkway of the other unit.
Front and side view of one of the duplexes City of Bridges Community Land Trust plans for Chatsworth Avenue. Construction is anticipated to begin in June and end in early 2024. Low- and moderate-income home buyers are encouraged to apply at https://cityofbridgesclt.org/apply. Rendering courtesy of Rothschild-Doyno Collaborative

Chatsworth Avenue project

Applications are open now for four permanently affordable homes that will be built on Chatsworth Avenue this year.


After three years of planning, the first four of 12 affordable homes on Chatsworth Avenue will break ground soon. Construction is expected to begin in June, according to Ed Nusser, executive director of City of Bridges Community Land Trust, and finish early next year.


The two duplex townhomes with a shared party wall will have two stories, three bedrooms, a first-floor powder room and a second-floor bathroom.


When they are complete, each home will cost $150,000 with up to $90,000 available in down payment support from the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh. Depending on how much assistance each buyer qualifies for, their monthly payment could be between roughly $750 to $950.


One of the homes is reserved for households earning less than 60% of the area median income. The other three are reserved for households earning between 60 and 80% of the area median income. For a rough estimate, this means households with total incomes between $33,000 and $68,000 could qualify depending on household size.


If you are interested in buying, start working to clean up your credit now and save your tax refund for a down payment.


The owners of these land trust homes will never be priced out by rising property taxes because land trust homeowners can only be billed for what they paid for the home, not the rising value of the land.


They may leave the home to their heirs even if the heirs do not meet the income qualifications. Each year that the owners live in the home will increase their equity so they will be able to buy a non-land trust home if they choose to move. But the home will remain affordable to the next person who buys it.


The homes will have front porches, lots of windows, and interiors designed for both beauty and practicality. The townhomes will be self-sufficient and energy efficient, with rooftop solar panels, all-electric appliances and onsite stormwater management.


Long-term affordability is guaranteed because the land the homes are built on belongs to a community land trust. The City of Bridges Community Land Trust owns the land on behalf of the community and leases it to the homeowner for 99 years. The lease is fully inheritable and automatically renewable.


City of Bridges Community Land Trust strives to help create diverse, affordable communities where people can thrive, put down roots and build wealth to pass down to their children without facing displacement, according to Mr. Nusser and the organization's stewardship and engagement manager, Crystal Jennings. Since 2019, the organization has developed 26 permanently affordable homes in 10 neighborhoods throughout the city and county.


The organization's membership comes from the neighborhoods they serve, electing and serving on the board annually and making their voices heard on committees.


To inquire about buying one of the homes or becoming a member of City of Bridges Community Land Trust, visit https://cityofbridgesclt.org/, or Contact Ms. Jennings at 412-621-1811 x110 or crystal@cityofbridgesclt.org.


Rising Tide Partners

Executive director Kendall Pelling described the organization as a “land recycler” that enables communities to have the site control they need to create the amount of affordable housing they need and protect the people who live there.


The regional nonprofit works in six different neighborhoods and across Pittsburgh’s North Side with 97 occupied rental units. It focuses on repairing, restoring and addressing health and safety concerns in run-down rental properties.


“If we want to protect residents from displacement, we need to buy out the bad landlords they currently have and fix the units,” Mr. Pelling said. Once Rising Tide Partners buys a property, they work to make it a safe and healthy place for tenants to live affordably. They also work to help renters become homeowners whenever possible.


In Hazelwood, the organization owns 79 units through its LLC, RTH Investment; 58 are occupied, 20 are unoccupied, three are vacant lots, three properties are under agreement and four are abandoned properties they are seeking conservatorship for.


The organization’s board includes members of Hazelwood Initiative, POORLAW and the Greater Hazelwood Community Collaborative. In line with the organization’s core value that the community must guide and direct its own development, a steering committee of 12 Hazelwood residents advises Rising Tide Partners on problem properties and how to protect residents.


The Rising Tide Partners is developing a three-unit building for homeownership at 183 to 185 Flowers Avenue, where acclaimed playwright August Wilson once lived. The organization raised $500,000 from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh to renovate that home, along with 5015 Steel Court and 5017 Glenwood Avenue, a single-family home. The homes will be renovated, designated as affordable housing for at least the next 20 years, and Hazelwood families who are experiencing homelessness will have first priority.


Homelessness includes families who are “doubled up” with relatives and families living in unsafe housing.


The group’s priority is to prevent displacement in Hazelwood and help those who have been displaced move back.


For more information on joining the steering committee or finding housing through Rising Tide Partners, visit risingtidepartners.org.


Stormwater Conversations

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer launched a series of conversations on stormwater, according to PWSA senior manager of public affairs Rebecca Zito. Ms. Zito said the purpose of the meetings is to engage communities about their stormwater experiences, talk about the strategic planning PWSA is doing around stormwater, and familiarize people with the sewer system, watersheds and other important information.


Join the conversation on Tuesday, May 23, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Hazelwood Healthy Active Living Center (the Car Barn). PWSA will provide dinner, childcare and ASL interpretation at the meetings. Register at pgh2o.com.


Summer opportunities for children and youth

Center of Life summer camp

The Center of Life summer day camp will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting on June 26 through August 4. The theme is science, technology, engineering, arts and math. COL is also hiring counselors at $18/hour. interested students, teens and young adults can learn more at www.centeroflife.org.


Industrial Arts Workshop free summer welding boot camp

Youth from ages 14 to 18 can learn metalworking and design in a team environment this summer in Hazelwood. The program is 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday from June 20 to August 17. Learn more and apply at iawpgh.org.


Learn and Earn

This summer work experience for teens from low- and moderate-income families. Youth in the program can work in local businesses and organizations earning $9/hour for approximately 25 hours per week. Apply by June 9 by visiting the Hazelwood branch of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh after school for help applying or go to jobs4summer.org. Orientation starts June 20 and employment ends on August 4.

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