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Alliance in line to receive Housing Opportunity Funding

Funding could support renovations to 14-18 homes in the Hilltop area


Last updated 2/14/2019 at 7:43am

The Hilltop Alliance may soon be able to assist up to 18 homeowners to make extensive repairs to their homes. The Housing Opportunity Fund has recommended the Alliance for $400,000 to assist the homeowners through the City of Pittsburgh's Urban Redevelopment Authority.

The Housing Opportunity Fund (HOF) Advisory Board voted last week to recommend the URA Board of Directors approve a resolution supporting affordable housing units in the Hilltop.

The HOF agreement with the Hilltop Alliance (HA) calls for it to serve as a program administrator for the Homeowner Assistance Program (HAP). The Alliance will be responsible to complete 14-18 homes in the amount of $400,000.

The URA held an open, public call for proposals from potential administrators from December 2018 to January 2019. The HA and other organizations were selected based on qualifications, experience and capacity to ensure the renovation projects are completed.

The HOF HAP provides financial and technical assistance to eligible borrowers for rehabilitating and improving residential owner-occupied properties citywide. Through HOF HAP, the URA provides deferred 0 percent interest loans and grants to assist low-income borrowers to: bring their homes into compliance with city codes; undertake energy efficiency improvements; and undertake eligible general property improvements. The annual household income must be less than 50 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). 

Aaron Sukenik, executive director of the Hilltop Alliance, said if the URA approves the agreement it will involve an all new application process. The Alliance will work with Hilltop homeowners to complete the application.

Mr. Sukenik said unlike much of the work the Alliance does, the Homeowner Assistance Program isn't limited to one geographic neighborhood in the Hilltop, but is limited by income with homeowners at or below 50 percent the Area Median Income.

The HAP may provide up to $30,000 to make needed repairs to a home. Of that amount, $5,000 is in the form of a grant and up to $25,000 in the form of a 0 percent interest no payment note that stays on the house. If the homeowner decides to sell the house, the note stays on the house and will need to be repaid unless the new homeowner is under 80 percent of the area's median annual income.

The role of the Hilltop Alliance, Mr. Sukenik said, will be to work with the homeowner on the URA application, bid out the work to contractors, get the work under contract, and work with the URA to inspect the work before signing off.

The Alliance has a track record in the neighborhoods of working with local contractors under its Property Stabilization Program and keeps a database of local Hilltop contractors qualified to perform the work. Local contractors interested in participating in the programs, but not already in the Hilltop Alliance's database are urged to contact Roy Blankenship, property stabilization program manager, at 412-586-5807.

"We want people from all over the Hilltop to be able to stay in their homes safely," Mr. Sukenik said.

He explained the program isn't for cosmetic improvements to homes, but will cover renovations such as roof and foundation repairs along with fixing things that are out of code.

Although it isn't anticipated the URA will have applications for the program until the end of March, Mr. Sukenik suggested interested homeowners contact Mr. Blankenship at 412-586-5807 now. The Alliance will keep a list of those interested in participating and will notify them when applications are available.

The URA, at its sole discretion, will be reviewing and selecting the applicants who will get assistance.

The HA and other administrators will not decide who does or does not receive assistance. Program administrators will help homeowers complete the necessary paperwork and act as the project manager to make sure the approved contracted work is completed.

All projects must be completed by the end of 2019.

The total amount in the Homeowner Assistance Program line item for the 2018 Housing Opportunity Fund allocation plan is $2.375 million. Organizations proposed to participate in the program include:

• Action Housing, Inc. in the amount of $500,000 to complete 18 - 22 homes

• Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh in the amount of $200,000 to complete 7 - 9 homes

Hilltop Alliance in the amount of $400,000 to complete 14 – 18 homes

• Nazareth Housing Services in the amount of $100,000 to complete 4 - 5 homes

• Oakland Planning & Development Corporation in the amount of $200,000 to complete 7 – 9 homes

• Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh in the amount of $200,000 to complete 7 – 9 homes.


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