County, partners launch home ownership program for low, limited income families
County Executive Rich Fitzgerald was joined by Frank Aggazio, executive director of the Allegheny County Housing Authority, Dr. Howard B. Slaughter, Jr ., president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh, and Patricia Darnley, president and CEO of Gateway Health to announce the Allegheny County-Habitat Homeownership Initiative, a first-time collaborative to provide homeownership opportunities for low and limited income families.
“Homeownership remains one of the most important goals because of the benefits it provides to families and the communities in which they live,” said Mr. Fitzgerald. “We want people to invest in their homes, their community and this county and know that, for many, that investment begins as a homeowner. I am grateful for the partnerships that have made this Initiative possible, and look forward to seeing even more opportunities for home ownership moving forward.”
The launch of the initiative was made possible through a recent sale by the Allegheny County Housing Authority (ACHA) of five homes in Penn Hills for rehabilitation and three lots in Duquesne for new home construction to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh (HFHGP). While this is the first partnership with Habitat, ACHA hopes to continue the partnership with Habitat to repeat this process in the near future. In addition to providing homes for those who may not otherwise have the opportunity, the homes also go onto the tax rolls.
“This partnership with Habitat for Humanity is a logical next step to offer alternatives for county residents who are no longer in need to housing assistance, but have embraced the need for growth and stability through homeownership,” said Mr. Aggazio.
Individuals interested in learning more about the Allegheny County-Habitat Homeownership Initiative can contact Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh at 1-866-NEW-HOME and ask for the Family Services Manager. Interested families who qualify for the program will work 350 hours (sweat equity) as part of the homeownership process.
Participants will also engage in pre-post financial education counseling provided by Habitat and Advantage Consumer Credit Counseling, a HUD-certified counseling agency. A small down payment is required and, once approved, homebuyers will receive a 30-year, 0 per cent fixed rate mortgage.
“The U.S. homeownership rate has dropped to its lowest in more than 50 years, at just 62.9 per cent. The rate has a direct correlation to less wealth in our community, and is a trend we want to reverse in Allegheny County” said Mr. Slaughter.
Many of the families that Habitat assists through its True Affordability Mortgage are minority, veterans and single parent head of households. Through this program, these families will have an opportunity to gain wealth through the equity in their home. Habitat places a heavy emphasis on homeownership and its work focuses on assisting vulnerable populations in meeting that goal.
Gateway Health is also providing a unique benefit to the partnership, with Healthy Home Kits for each of the homes rehabbed and built by Habitat. The kits include healthy essentials such as a smoke detector and fire extinguishers and accessible information on CPR, burn prevention, and heart and stroke response and intervention.
“The significance and criticality of ensuring healthy homes is a key outcome of Gateway Health’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh, and is just one of the ways that we provide community support,” said Ms. Darnley. “The Healthy Home Kits are an important household item for new homeowners and we’re pleased to be able to offer through this Initiative. The revitalization of our neighborhoods starts with the individual families who occupy these homes, and continues with safe, sustainable and healthy families and communities.”
Initial funding support was from the Pittsburgh Foundation’s Mortgage Escrow Interest Fund, Goodman Family Fund, William C. Comptaro Fund, J. Warren Matson Fund, Richard K. Means Neighborhood Building Fund, James F. and Ellen C. Pitcairn Fund and the Belle Richard’s Fund No. 2. Funding was also received from The Eden Hall Foundation, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh and Habitat’s Fund for Humanity and will be used for acquisition, rehabilitation and construction of the homes.