PDCDC Resident Ambassadors: Each month, a group of volunteer ambassadors representing each residential building meet to discuss issues concerning downtown living. These monthly meetings give the ambassadors a chance to touch base with fellow residents, to report on happenings in their building, to advocate for their neighbors on any urban living issues they face, and to plan events such as community service projects, special events, and town hall meetings.
Monday, April 28 at 5:30 pm: Hatch Kick-off Celebration @ Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Co. (937 Liberty Ave)
Learn more about Hatch and how it can make a difference in your community. Istanbul Grille will provide complimentary food and refreshments. Click here for the Hatch Kickoff Event Flyer.
Tuesday, May 13 at 6 pm: Spaghetti Dinner at Our Daily Bread (First Presbyterian Church, 320 6th Ave)
Pittsburgh’s community development world celebrated the passage of City Council Bill 2014-0025 in an 8-1 vote, establishing the creation of a land bank, and the Bill was signed into law on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 by Mayor Bill Peduto.
The current system can handle only 300 parcels at any given time. With current systems, it could take up to 60 years just to deal with the 30,000+ distressed parcels. The land bank can change this by creating an entity solely focused on returning properties to productive use while preserving neighborhood priorities. It can also advance greening initiatives, transit-oriented development, storm water management projects, and a host of other community priorities that are currently starved for organizational capacity.
Thanks to Councilwoman Gross, Councilman O’Connor, the Peduto administration, and all of PCRG’s members and partners, we took the first step in creating a responsible, community-lead land bank. It is important that the to-be crafted Policies and Procedures even further reflect the needs of the communities most affected by blight and abandonment, and we look forward to that conversation.
For more information, contact Chris Sandvig, PCRG’s Regional Policy Director, at email@example.com or (412) 391-6732 ext. 208.
[Map produced by Tim Schooley, Reporter at Pittsburgh Business Times]
On April 25th, Tim Schooley, Reporter at the Pittsburgh Business Times, featured PCRG’s 20th Annual Mortgage Lending Study in an article titled, “Mortgage lending study shows vast majority of city neighborhoods left devoid of funding.”
The Mortgage Lending Study includes a snapshot of each neighborhood’s demographics, housing, and mortgage lending in 2012. The snapshot shows population, minority percentage, and median income level for every neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Housing information includes the total number of housing units, the number of units in 1-4 family housing, the occupancy rate, and median home value and sales price as of 2010.
The mortgage lending information shows the number of loans and loan dollars captured by each neighborhood, and the number of loans per unit of housing. Most (99%) of the residential loans in 2012 were for 1-4 family housing. The 68 residential mortgage loans for multifamily housing are listed separately. In most of the neighborhoods with multifamily loans, there were just one or two loans, though Shadyside had thirteen.
Mortgage loans are also shown for each neighborhood by the purpose of the loan—home purchase, home-improvement, or refinancing—along with loan denial rates for each category.
For more information about PCRG’s Mortgage Lending Study, contact Rachel Rue, PCRG’s Research Analyst, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (412) 391-6732 ext. 202.
PCRG, community leaders, and financial institutions have been working together through the Community Bankers Collaborative Council (CBCC) to collectively identify issues in the community development system and address these problems with creative solutions. One creative solution is to bring back an affordable and standardized purchase-rehabilitation mortgage loan.
This specialized purchase-rehabilitation mortgage product, also known as the Community Acquisition and Rehabilitation Loan (CARL), will provide the market with the ability to access capital and catalyze revitalization in communities that need the most help. CARL is a single loan product that simplifies the financing process for the purchase and rehabilitation of a property by reducing the cost, time, and complexity of obtaining multiple loans. Our communities seek to benefit from the renovations in terms of increased property values, job creation, and a more robust tax base for the local economy. This strategy creates opportunity for homeownership while simultaneously allowing individuals and families to affordably make modern, energy-efficient repairs to create the home of their dreams.
Fidelity Bank, which was acquired by WesBanco in 2012, utilized the criteria developed by the CBCC to create its own purchase-rehab product. One success story that used the WesBanco purchase-rehab product received “the top prize in the 2013-14 Renovation Inspiration Contest, large residential category (more than $50,000).” Click here for the Post-Gazette article and a video tour of the renovated house.
PCRG’s partners at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) committed $1M to guarantee CARL during its pilot phase. Additionally, Councilman Corey O’Connor committed $100,000 of his district funds to help us move the pilot forward. “We wanted to find a way to help first time home buyers buy property in the city, and this pilot program will do that,” said Councilman O’Connor. “I’m hopeful we’ll eventually be able to offer this option to buyers in additional neighborhoods.”
Click here for the Post-Gazette article on the URA’s and Councilman Corey O’Connor’s support of the pilot
If you have any questions about CARL, please contact Alyssa Lyon, PCRG’s Manager of Community Outreach and Member Engagement, at email@example.com or (412) 391-6732.
Representative Thomas Killion wants to expand and modernize the Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP). Tell your Legislator that you agree!
As a community development expert, you know the value of Pennsylvania’s Neighborhood Assistance Act. This pioneering program addresses many community needs including career development, food bank support, free healthcare, job creation and retention, business incubation, affordable housing, and neighborhood stabilization. The Act has helped reverse decades of decline in some of our most distressed communities. However, it’s in need of modernization if Pennsylvania is to remain competitive.
Representative Killion is leading efforts to do just that. He wants to make the Act more competitive with the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and expand its pool to $36 million. Modernization would create an affordable housing tax credit, provide new protections for homeless veterans, increase vital funds for the Act’s traditional programs – NAP, NPP, SPP, and EZP – and allow intermediaries to build partnerships. But he needs your help.
If you like NAP, please contact your representative today and ask him/her to support the expansion and modernization of the Neighborhood Assistance Act. You can follow this link to make your voice heard.
Modernization is something that could only benefit Pennsylvania. We applaud Representative Killion’s amendments. We hope that you do too.
For more information on the Neighborhood Assistance Program, contact Chris Sandvig, PCRG’s Regional Policy Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (412) 391-6732 ext. 208.
Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods are at the core of the City’s internationally-acclaimed rebirth, and PCRG and its members have been leading the way for over two decades. Now, with generous matching support, on May 6th, you can show your support for PCRG during the Pittsburgh Day of Giving.
Visit pittsburghgives.org and search for PCRG, any donation you make (up to $1,000) will be matched by the donor’s pool.
Your donation helps ensure that our most distressed communities have access to the tools and financial resources they need and have a voice with local, state, and federal decision-makers. Through our cumulative efforts, we advance new policies and practices locally, nationally and in Harrisburg that are focused on the revival of the urban core. This year, we’ve done quite a lot:
From providing scholarships to the Community Development Summit to educational materials for stakeholders and members, donations through the Day of Giving can help PCRG continue to serve our communities. On Tuesday, May 6, 2014, we hope that you consider PCRG and our membership when you make a donation that will make a lasting impact on our communities. Visit pittsburghgives.org, and look for PCRG. Thank you.
For more information on Day of Giving, please contact Chris Sandvig, PCRG’s Regional Policy Director, at email@example.com or (412) 391-6732 ext 208.
By Jim Richter, Executive Director of Hazelwood Initiative
For over five years Hazelwood Initiative and other community partners have worked to secure Burgwin School for reuse as a charter. Our first attempt was in support of the Imagine Schools’ application to the Board of Education for a charter in Hazelwood. That effort went all the way to Commonwealth Court on appeal as the school district denied Imagine’s application. Imagine has since directed its focus on Penn Hills.
More recently, a ground swell of activity by Hazelwood individuals and organizations centered on Propel Schools. The Duquesne/Hazelwood Partnership spearheaded by Rev. Tim Smith, executive director of Center of Life, brought the community and Propel together. We immediately invited Propel Schools into our community because of their sincerity and their Promising Principles: Agile Instruction, Embedded Support, Culture of Dignity, Fully Valued Arts Program, Vibrant Teaching Communities, and Quest for Excellence. After wide-spread community organizing efforts, Propel applied to the district for a charter in Hazelwood. Since the school board neither approved nor denied the charter application by a 4-4 vote with one abstention, an appeal went to the Commonwealth’s Charter School Appeal Board (“CAB”) for review on grounds that the Pittsburgh School District failed to grant or deny the charter application within the statutorily required time period. In October 2013, the CAB awarded Propel a charter based on the merit of its application.
With the granting of the charter, Propel and the community set out to secure a suitable site for the school. And what could be more obvious than Burgwin. I keep going back to the development adage, “The highest, best reuse of a school is a school.” Built in 1937, the 62,175 square foot building sits on 2.7 acres atop Mansion Street in the heart of Glenwood. Added to the ongoing renovation of the Burgwin recreation building and the future water spray park, the location is a touchstone of redevelopment efforts for the neighborhood. With that in mind, Hazelwood Initiative sprang into action immediately submitting a Buyers’ Prequalification and Minimum Offer Requirements for Former School Properties for Sale and a non-binding offer letter to purchase the school at full price, $475,000. The offer was made through Fourth River Development, the real estate broker for the school district.
While Fourth River and school administrators evaluated Hazelwood Initiative’s offer, we stated our case to then school board director, Theresa Colaizzi. After several in-depth meetings, Ms. Colaizzi rallied to our cause and in November 2013 introduced a resolution to sell the school to Hazelwood Initiative. Unfortunately, that resolution was met with great opposition by the majority of school board members. We certainly are appreciative of Theresa’s efforts in her last days on the board.
Enter a new board and the efforts by Terry Kennedy to champion the community’s cause. Ms. Kennedy initially was reluctant to support the sale of the school based on financial, enrollment, and other factors. She soon changed her mind based on a thorough analysis of those issues along with overwhelming advocacy by the Hazelwood community. School administrators also recommended sale of the school. Ms. Kennedy, who had campaigned to re-open the school, said she came to realize that Propel was going to open a school in Hazelwood whether the district sold Burgwin to Propel or not. “The community really is behind this,” she said.
In February, Ms. Kennedy asked the board to approve the sale. Board member Bill Isler seconded the motion, but withdrew his second after Director Mark Brently said the manner in which it was brought up violated the board’s procedures. Others on the board agreed and the motion then died without a second.
We were back to square one. But this time, Ms. Kennedy was sure that her next attempt would be procedurally within board rules and regulations. So, on March 26, on the third attempt, Ms. Kennedy introduced a resolution approving “the sale of Burgwin School to Hazelwood Initiative, Inc. for the offered amount of $475,000 which amount exceeds the amount opined as the market value by all appraisals obtained by the District.” Mr. Isler again seconded and rigorous debate followed. When the vote was taken, the Board approved the sale by a margin of 8 to 1. Our long quest was achieved.
Propel’s plan calls for the school opening on August 18 with 200 students in K-4 and growing to K-8. Hazelwood Initiative will lease the school to Propel for a five-year term with an option for an additional five years. After we conduct a hazardous materials assessment and reevaluate the building’s systems and structural integrity, our due diligence will be complete. Then, we will have a few details to iron out with the lease agreement, after which things will be ready to go. Propel has been enrolling prospective students from Hazelwood for almost three months. They also have hired their new principal who will be relocating from New York. Eric Ewell, Propel’s Hazelwood liaison, continues to take enrollment applications and can be reached at 412-584-8041 or by going to Propel’s web site at www.propelschools.org.
All in the community and at Propel are extremely excited, and we particularly want to thank School Director Terry Kennedy for her hard work in getting the sale authorized. We also want to thank the other Board of Education members who voted in favor including Bill Eisler, Board President Thomas Sumpter, Carolyn Klug, Sylvia Wilson, Dr. Regina Holley, Sherry Hazuda, and Cynthia Falls. This important action signals the start of reinvestment in the education of Hazelwood’s children.
For more information, please contact Matt Smuts, PCRG’s Hazelwood Community Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (412) 391-6732 ext 203.
We’re having a blast planning our “We’ve got something brewing!” mobile workshop. Iris Whitworth, Executive Director of Allegheny River Towns Enterprise Zone (ARTEZ), took us on a dry run, and we can’t wait to go back on May 14th! The mobile workshop covered the collaborative efforts among different communities for the riverfront revitalization, joint comprehensive planning, and housing needs while simultaneously identifying and capitalizing on the assets of urban river towns. Join us on this amazing mobile tour (lunch included!) and experience the Millvale Community Library; a community garden/fruit orchard complete with a community bread oven; the Millvale PIVOT project; a scenic boat ride from one riverfront park to another; La Dorita; the Bridge Street/Etna Riverfront Park project; and a final stop at Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka Distillery. There’s limited space available, so sign up now before it’s too late!
For more information on the Summit, contact Katie Hale, PCRG’s Neighborhood Policy Manager, at email@example.com or (412) 391-6732 ext 207.
Katelyn Haas, not to be confused with Katie Hale (PCRG’s Neighborhood Policy Manager), is our new Program Coordinator!
You can reach Katie Haas at firstname.lastname@example.org or (412) 391-6732.
For a full list of PCRG’s staff, click here.
The weather is FINALLY getting nice, and PCRG wants you to tune up your bicycles and join us in the National Bike Challenge!
The National Bike Challenge is a nationwide event uniting thousands of current bicyclists — and encouraging countless new riders. In its simplest form it is a logging center for users to record miles ridden and be part of the national community of bicyclists. It is a free and easy way to challenge yourself, colleagues and the greater community to ride more. Users compete on a local, state and national level. The Challenge aims to unite 50,000 riders to pedal 30 million miles from May 1, 2014 until September 30, 2014. The Challenge, now in its third year, is organized by the League of American Bicyclists. The League’s mission is to lead the movement to create a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.
We’re encouraging PCRG’s members and partners to participate in the Challenge this year as part of Team PCRG. This friendly competition is a great way to get active and enjoy our city’s diverse neighborhoods. It’s easy and free to sign up, and there are several smartphone apps you can use to conveniently log your miles. The official competition starts on Thursday, May 1, so please sign up and join Team PCRG today!
If you need assistance with joining the Challenge or the PCRG Team, feel free to contact Steve Novotny, PCRG’s Sheraden Community Coordinator, at email@example.com or (412) 391-6732 ext 205.
Friday, May 9th (9-11AM)
May’s GoBurgh Meeting is Cancelled
Thursday, June 5th (12-2PM)
Safe Neighborhoods Network (SNN)
If you are a PCRG member organization or partner, please let us know if you have upcoming events or announcements. We would be happy to help you promote it through our social media and future newsletters.