1. Organizations Partnering: Fineview Citizens Council and Perry Hilltop Citizens Council
2. Founding Date: FCC – 1983, PHCC – 1968
3. Current Staff Size: 2 full-time staff members
4. Geographic Area Served: Fineview and Perry Hilltop (Perry South)
5. Mission Statement:
FCC: To develop affordable and desirable housing through public and private funds, to foster a strong sense of pride and ownership in the community and to generally improve the quality of life for each citizen in Fineview.
PHCC: To stimulate civic and social action on a non-sectarian, non-partisan and interracial basis to benefit all residents and to improve the quality of life for all residents and business enterprises within the Perry Hilltop neighborhood.
Talking with Joanna Deming, Program Manager
6. What is one project or program that you are really excited about?
We have a couple really cool projects that we are doing right now, thanks in part to strong volunteer leadership from our board and community partners. One that stands out is Corner of Hope where students from The Pittsburgh Project, along with artist and teacher Sandy Kessler Kaminski, recreated 9 Negro League Murals that were installed on a newly improved parklet. The lot was neglected after an initial investment 20 years ago. The project was supported by local developer Oakglade Realty. The ribbon cutting celebration drew 75-100 people and was featured in multiple news outlets. The project was also highlighted at the Pittsburgh Pirates African American Heritage Night game in June.
7. What are some of the corporation’s recent accomplishments?
We are partnering to promote development in our communities, while making sure long-term and vulnerable residents have a place in its future. We are working to build an inclusive community. In order to bring our community together around a common vision and create a path forward, we are undergoing a board and staff led comprehensive planning process that has engaged over 225 of our neighbors and brought local service providers to the table. Learn more at www.ourfuturehilltop.org!
9. Tell us what you love about your neighborhood. What is your neighborhood’s best kept secret?
Fineview has one of the best views in the city, with Fineview Park just a block away. It is home to historic Heathside Cottage, which is owned by Greg Manley, who opens his home to friends and neighbors for local theater, musical, and dining experiences.
Perry Hilltop is home to Ballfield Farm, The Pittsburgh Project, Charles Street Cafe (summer only), Fowler Park and Pool, Allegheny Goatscape, and a brand new co-working space at Oakglade Realty.
10. What is an interesting fact about your corporation or its history?
Fineview had the first curved incline in Pittsburgh. It ran from Federal St at Henderson St. to Catoma St. near Meadville St.
Perry Hilltop was the original home for the University of Pittsburgh, known then as Western University of Pennsylvania.
11. What are some of your upcoming events?
Sunday, August 27th, 11-1pm – Ribbon Cutting at Unity Corner, 1-4pm – Community Picnic at Fineview Park.
12. Contact Information
In recent months, affordable housing policy has been in both the national and local news. PCRG members and partners advocate for legislation and programs to support affordable housing, but they are also actively involved in affordable housing production. PCRG supports our members’ involvement both through research and advocacy, as well as through programs. These programs include the Vacant Property Working Group, the CARL program, and our Real Estate-Owned (REO) Purchase and Resale program.
For the REO Purchase and Resale program, PCRG staff monitor REO properties available in Pittsburgh through a variety of methods, and facilitate the sale of those properties to members and partners. Two of our partners recently closed on properties, acquired from Wells Fargo and the the National Community Stabilization Trust (NCST). Since properties are available at a significant discount in both of these programs, it helps organizations afford to sell or rent them as affordable housing.
PCRG monitors the Wells Fargo Discount and Donation Program, a way for Wells Fargo to connect community groups with REO properties in their geographic area. PCRG was notified about a property available in the Perry Hilltop neighborhood of Pittsburgh. PCRG contacted Perry Hilltop Citizens Council, who determined that it would fit with their strategy to have the house sold to a local affordable housing renovation and rental company, Oakglade Realty. When purchasing the house, Oakglade Realty signed a Memorandum of Understanding with PHCC to ensure long-term affordability.
After completing interior and exterior renovations, the home is now renovated and available to rent to tenants with Section 8 vouchers or another similar voucher program. Located on a street close to the Pittsburgh Project, an Oakglade Realty office building, and several houses occupied by PULSE Fellows, the formerly vacant house will now contribute further to the stability of the neighborhood.
PCRG has been an approved Community Buyer through NCST since May 2016. As a Community Buyer, PCRG is notified of REO properties before they are put for sale on the open market. PCRG’s goal for participating in the program is to make discounted properties available to community groups, by facilitating the transaction, providing training, and providing reporting support. Other regional groups, including the Pittsburgh Housing Development Corporation and the NCRC Growth Initiative, also participate in the NCST Program.
Earlier this year, a property in Hazelwood became available through the NCST Property Acquisition Program. Hazelwood Initiative is a community development corporation, currently pursuing a strategy of purchasing, rehabbing, and selling houses to provide housing for low to moderate income households. A number of properties have already been renovated and sold through this program. PCRG worked with the financial institution and Hazelwood Initiative to facilitate closing. The house is currently being renovated, and will be sold to a qualifying homeowner.
In addition to our policy and advocacy, PCRG programs and trainings are crucial ways we support member goals and member capacity. Are you a PCRG member or an affordable housing developer who works closely with a PCRG member? Call the PCRG office at 412-391-6732 for more information.
Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group (PCRG) recently received a contribution of $25,000 from Citizens Bank as part of the banks Citizens Helping Citizens program. Citizens Helping Citizens is focused on supporting and strengthening communities in the hopes of driving economic vitality in the region. PCRG will use the contribution for Moving Residents through Financial Education, an effort to provide residents with financial literacy education and financial tools. The overall goal of the program is to stabilize and revitalize distressed and transitional neighborhoods of low-to-moderate income (LMI) residents by making them homeowners. Building capacity within the community through training is integral to the long-term viability of neighborhood stabilization efforts.
For the next few months, we will be introducing the PCRG community to our latest AmeriCorps VISTAs. Get to know our cohort as each member will be featured on our blog and in our newsletter!
Work Hard Pittsburgh
Hello! My name is William (Will) Prince. I am the AmeriCorps VISTA for Work Hard Pittsburgh. I grew up in Elizabeth, PA – in Pittsburgh’s beautiful Mon Valley. I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a BA in Humanities and Certificate in Historic Preservation. After graduating, I worked in several small towns along the Great Allegheny Passage and other regional trails across western PA with the Trail Town Program. Over the last few years I also volunteered with my hometown’s revitalization efforts and have served on the board of the Young Preservationists Association. I enjoy travel (abroad, domestic, and local), theater, of course Zumba!
I previously served with the Student Conservation Association and was familiar with the type of work and was particularly looking to get more urban experience back in Pittsburgh. I know this work is important and makes an impact, so I wanted to get involved.
My main projects at Work Hard have been to bring capacity to the growing coop. I’ve tracked demographic and job placement data from participants of Academy Pittsburgh, coordinate coop members activities and video series, as well as outreach with businesses along Warrington Avenue. I was also involved in the CITF grant application that was recently awarded to acquire property for the coop.
Additionally, I’ve been able to partner with Hilltop Alliance in the Allentown neighborhood with the business district committee, events and marketing development, and attracting the Burgh Bits and Bites Tour to the area.
From my VISTA experience, plus additional professional development over the year, I learned that small town and big city issues are all the same. From business attraction/management, neighborhood engagement, funding, and the like – these challenges can be found in every community, but more diverse and unique partnerships are required to get things done.
Very soon I will be adventuring down to New Orleans to attend Tulane University for a Masters of Preservation Studies. This program will focus on historic preservation and planning. I know I will eventually boomerang back to Pittsburgh and the Mon Valley, but not sure when yet. I plan to stay involved in revitalization efforts while including historic resources and heritage areas.
For more information on this newsletter, please contact Brigid O’Hara, Member Engagement and Communications Coordinator, at bo’firstname.lastname@example.org or (412) 391-6732 ext. 211.